April 11, 2014 report
Kickstarter Project ZUtA - a crawling microprinter (w/ video)
(Phys.org) —A team made up of a small group of students at the Jerusalem College of Technology has come up with a novel way to print documents—they've done away with the paper-fed machine archetype and instead have developed a small device that drives itself around on a piece of paper, laying down ink as it goes. It's not very fast, but it is extremely portable. They've created a company they've named ZUtA Labs and have posted their idea on Kickstarter, hoping to attract $400,000 in investment funds.
The printer is small, just 10 centimeters tall and 11.5 centimeters in diameter—making it likely one of the most portable printers ever. It also runs without a tether, crawling across a page, using data wirelessly fed to it from a computer (and very soon, tablets and phones). It also has a point on one side, to assist with orientation. The user simply places the printer on a piece of paper, with the point centered on a corner of the page. The printer does the rest. To print more than one page, the user picks up the printer when it reaches the bottom of a finished page and then sets it on the next.
There are some drawbacks, of course—it's extremely slow, printing on average just 1.2 pages per minute. It's also pretty low resolution—just 196 by 192 dpi and only prints in black and white (grayscale). There is also the need to print on a nearly perfectly flat surface. But such shortcomings seem trivial when compared with the incredible portability of the printer (which has yet to be named, it appears). It's got a little door to cover the inkjet nozzle so it won't create a mess in a backpack or briefcase, and its battery can operate the printer for up to an hour—also a single ink cartridge will last for up to 1000 pages.
The team promises that if they meet their goal, funders can expect to receive a printer as early as January 2015. They might meet the deadline regardless as it appears the cool little printer has captured the attention of some corporate players, including Microsoft, which has invited the team to present its printer at the Israeli Think Next Conference next month.
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