The device from industrial designers Hoyoung Lee et al. is a good sign for the environment.
Until recently painting a road sign was a hazardous business. The workmen risked giving themselves a terrible posture, what with leaning down to spell words out onto the tarmac surface. Rarely had bending at the knees possessed such immense value.
At worst the work left them in a permanently bent position, unfit to do anything but paint roads!
But thanks to the invention of the solar-powered road printer, now workmen can put those fears behind them. Unveiled on December 18th at EcoFriend.org, the handy (since it doesn’t need hands) device is the work of industrial designers Hoyoung Lee, Doyoung Kim, and Hongju Kim.
The road printer harbors an onboard solar panel with which it powers itself, trundling along as it jet sprays the tarmac. Road signs are pre-programmed into the printer’s memory – right now it can print such classics as the U-Turn and Stop Sign.
The road printer doesn’t even require workmen to bend down to set it going: the buttons have been designed to withstand the steel-capped toe of a boot. Workmen need only replenish the paint reservoir, from which the paint cartridge
Of course, the device needs charging – but even then workmen need only leave it sunbathing by the roadside.
The EcoFriend.org article doesn’t state if the road printer is intended for commercial use, or is just conceptual. Yet the device may yet become the No. 1 Christmas gift for workmen looking to be spared a visit to the chiropractor’s office.
For pictures of the solar-powered road printer click: here
Professional bakeries, and home based cake decorators, a new fun way to decorate is now available. Novelty baked goods such as photograph cakes have been made at larger commercial bakeries and grocery stores, now you can decorate your own cake at home using edible ink. Cake decoration has long been a serious art. From birthday cakes to wedding cakes, cake artists will tell you that it is all about presentation. All you need is a good photo printer from Canon or Epson, like the Canon IP
or Canon Pixma
, compatible ink cartridges or a refill kit and edible icing sheets.
Many cake decorating supply stores carry edible ink and icing sheets. I even found it online at Kopykake
Once an image is printed on an icing sheet, you can simply place it on top of the frosted cake or other baked good. The icing sheet will seamlessly absorb into cake frosting.
The use of an inkjet printer allows any one that is proficient with a computer to display perfect logos, complete Photoshop designs, family photographs and more like a true culinary artist.
You may want to thoroughly clean your printer before inserting your cartridges filled with edible ink. This way you can have your cake and feel comfortable eating it too.
I found a beautiful example at Sweetmoments
Who knew a regular photo printer could do so much! Whether you are a professional culinary artist or a mom who loves to create top notch birthday cakes, you will want to experiment with edible inks and see where this new method of cake decoration takes you.
If you have a great cake recipe or have accomplished a beautiful design, please share with us in the comments below.
Print News: InfoTrends Offers Advice for Photo Printing Firms
A release by the market research firm InfoTrends offers encouraging advice for photo printing companies.
InfoTrends, the market research firm, has released its 2009 report detailing the photo printing habits of US consumers. An extensive quantitative study, retailing for almost $4000, the survey offers advice for photo printing firms looking to maximize their investments. According to the InfoTrends press release, it finds ‘bright spots’ in the photo printing market in spite of stiff competition from digital storage methods. In particular, ‘Households with children, family memory keepers, and hobbyists’ remain dedicated photo printers, while there are ‘many things’ vendors can do to encourage increased rates of photo printing among consumers.
In June 2005, a report by InfoTrends found that the photo printing market faced possible decline. In spite of an 81% growth in digital cameras sales that year, consumers were increasingly likely to neglect printing
their photos in favor of storing them digitally: either by hard disc, CD or DVD, or even on social media websites. Yet InfoTrends noted that an increase in photo printing revenues was possible, if vendors tried to increase the ease of printing while lowering the costs. The release found that, by 2010, revenues could either rocket to $7.6 billion or plummet, declining as low as $3.7 billion, depending on vendor strategies.
In February 2006, Hewlett Packard attempted to spur photo printing with the introduction of its self-service photo kiosk, housed in retailers across the US. The kiosk enabled consumers to not only design prints in under five minutes, but print each copy in 5 seconds. The Wal-Mart trial of the machines proved so successful that, by the end of 2006, it housed a total 50 photo-printers in its stores.
Yet in spite of this, vendors have largely failed to convince consumers of the worth of photo-printing over digital storage methods. In an article by Jennifer Nealson on December 1 2008 for DigitalCameraInfo.org, it was reported that the volume of images printed in the year 2007-8 grew by 1.7 billion to total 19.7 billion. This is good news – but at the same time a report by PMA Marketing Research entitled ‘Consumer Imaging in Canada’ for that 73% of young consumers share photos online. For consumers who used to print, this transition may be permanent.
InfoTrends believes that vendors have ‘only two or three years to gain back consumers’ who now store photos online. Equally though, the market research firm suggests that vendors may better invest their time in products that cannot be replaced online. The market for specialty printing – where images are placed on almost any item imaginable – grew 11% in sales from $9.9 billion in 2005 to $11.1 billion in 2006, according to Dimitrios Delis, Research Director at the Photo Marketing Association. It may be through these items that vendors assure their future.
For years the printer cable was a tether by which the computer user was kept in spitting distance of their Epson
printer. A slave were they to the length of that copper wire. But no longer. For, according to a December 14th, 2009 press release from Epson, owners of network capable Epson printers, including the Artisan 810
and Workforce 610
, will be able to print their images wirelessly. The means of this freedom? Nothing less than Epson’s very own iPrint
Application, for use with the iPhone.
The Epson App is available from the iTunes App store, seated alongside similar releases from rival brands. Earlier this year both Hewlett Packard
enabled their customers to cast away their printer cables, so long as they own iPhones. The Apple device comes equipped with a sixth sense, meaning that it’s capable of automatically identifying printers in your network. It does this with WiFi. Yet persons seeking this printing freedom ought beware: according to a December 14th 2009 post by Ragu Magapann at TheStandard.com, the quality of images produced on the iPhone is mediocre.
Recently market research firms including Gartner and InfoTrends have released reports telling companies that they can save money on their printing costs by reducing the number of persons per printer. But at the General Sessions Court in Chattanooga, Tennessee, resident Judges have taken this policy to its logical extreme. By banning local lawyers from the corridor outside their offices, they have restricted access to their copier machine and saved 50% on their printing costs. Whereas, according to a Judge Bales, the ‘copier was breaking down once every six weeks’ before the restrictions were put in place, now the copier ‘has not broken down in more than a year.’ Businesses may learn a lot from this approach: simply refusing to let persons use their printer is a great way to keep them pristine.
This policy of the Chattanooga City Court was put in place at the climax of a ‘persistent erosion of collegiality’ between attorneys and Judges. This concerns alleged abuses of the General Sessions Court facilities on the part of visiting attorneys. Speaking to Chattanoogan.com, Judge Moon spoke of ‘major fiscal concerns’ not only regarding the copier but the City Court kitchen. ‘We have five judges and three staff members in our General Sessions Court. Only three of the eight drink coffee and yet we have previously had the highest coffee expense in Hamilton County for any office our size. Our annual coffee bill was approximately $2,600 annually for only three people,’ he said. By restricting access to the kitchen the Judges have reduced the coffee bill to $500 for themselves and the taxpayer.
A group of 30 attorneys have sent a letter to the City Court judges, calling the restriction to their access to the corridor ‘an insult.’ They object to the new policy not only because the court corridor was used for legitimate business, but because they were not consulted before the new policy was put into place. The attorneys said that business in the Court ‘is dependent upon quick access to all the parties concerned, including law enforcement officers, victims, witnesses and multiple attorneys.’ Yet they may have to learn to live with the changes; the judges have no plans to reverse their decision after reviewing reduced costs of maintenance for their copier and a smaller bill for paper
Students of the South Polytechnic State University in Marietta recently took a creative approach to recycling empty ink cartridges when, to help beat exams stress, they tore the components to pieces using several blenders. Along with similar used components including defunct printers and old keyboards, the student chapter of the Association of Computer Machinery paid $1 for the opportunity to shred their used cartridges. One of a dozen student witnesses to the rampage, freshman James Mahoney, told AJCNews.com: ‘Destruction is always fun when it’s rampant.’
The faculty advisor to the Association of Computer Machinery recommended the Blendtec Total Blender to the group, after seeing the machine perform on YouTube. Powered by 1500 Watts, the blender will shred almost anything; although, as AJCNews.com reports, ‘it gets tripped up with some metals and, as students discovered, ink cartridges
.’ The students, extremely relaxed and ready for their exams after the rampage, plan to recycle the shredded remains of the empty ink cartridges. Though where they intend to do so remains to be seen - whether the Cartridge Recycling Programs at Canon and Lexmark accept powered plastic is doubtful.
recycling program initiated by Canon is about to celebrate its twentieth anniversary. In 1990 the scheme only operated in the USA, Germany and Japan. Today it covers 23 nations and, as of June 2009, has collected around 220,000 tons of used toner cartridges. The toner
recycling scheme is unique among print brands in that 100% of the cartridge parts are recycled and recovered, so that nothing goes to landfill. For example, the energy used in recycling the cartridges is used for heating, while the plastic is used for new cartridges.
The timeline of the Canon
Recycling Program documents the company’s increasing concern with recycling. Beginning in 1990 with only three nations, by 1994 21 countries were involved. Further, the rate of cartridge collection has grown most rapidly in the last five years: at the Program’s half way point in 2000, only 60,000 tons of cartridges had been collected, of the 222,000 recycled today. Further, it was not only 2003 that Canon’s ‘zero landfill’ policy was implemented in all four of its global recycling bases. This period of greater dedication to toner recycling coincides with the increased number of accolades award to Canon. In 2005 for example, Canon received a 3R Award from the Japanese Minister of Industry.
Canon attributes the success of its Cartridge Recycling Program to its company ethos: ‘kyosei’. This mentality of ‘living and working for the common good’ meant Canon introduced its ink and toner recycling program before any other printer brand, and without cost to the consumer. Today it implements a ‘closed-loop recycling’ method, meaning that a minimum of new resources are needed for its products. The company presently only recycles ink cartridges of its own brand, though this may change later on. To take part in Canon’s program, visit their website.
Print News: HP Joins Anti-Counterfeiting Group
In recent years HP has invested huge amounts to combat counterfeit ink cartridge sellers. Now the cartridge giant has joined the anti-counterfeiting Global Leadership Group.
In an attempt to redouble its anti-counterfeiting efforts, HP has announced its membership of the Business Action to Stop Counterfeit and Piracy (BASCAP) Global Leadership Group. A worldwide organisation, members of the BASCAP co-operate to address property rights issues, as well as share resources to fight counterfeit groups. By the combination of their expertise, businesses within BASCAP aim to increase the effect of their anti-counterfeiting schemes, as well as educate consumers about the problem. Though HP is itself concerned with combating counterfeit ink sellers, BASCAP fights the sale of illegal goods across many electronics industries. BASCAP was formed in 2005 and since then has expanded steadily.
For HP, the rise of counterfeit ink cartridges has become a real problem. It is estimated that of the $3 billion lost to counterfeit sellers in the cartridge industry last year, $1 billion of that was lost by Hewlett Packard. This is according to market research by IDC. Combined with the tough climate of the recession – sales of HP products fell 21% this year in the US – counterfeiters today seriously undermine HP. This is due in part to changes in HP’s business model, which depends on the revenue from ink cartridges. They are sold at prices reaching half that of the printers themselves, which recoup only the cost of production.
Yet while making the ink and toner market incredibly profitable – according to BusinessWeek.com its value has ballooned from $11 billion to $45 billion in ten years – HP opened the way for counterfeiters. While the print giant spent this decade combating legitimate toner resellers, which depend on HP’s own empty cartridges, the market in counterfeit ink exploded. According to LatinTrade.com, since 2003 the revenue lost to counterfeiters has gone from $2 billion to $3 billion. The problem has become so massive that, between 2005-2008, HP’s anti-counterfeiting unit conducted 4,620 investigations, seizing $795 million in fake products.
The decision to join BASCAP is one of several attempts by CEO Mard V. Hurd to combat the counterfeit market. Talking to Cliff Edwards of BusinessWeek.com, he expressed concern that the widespread sale of fake HP toner would ‘damage [the brand’s] reputation. His concern is legitimate because, unlike ink resellers
which don’t pretend to sell original cartridges, counterfeiters imitate HP toner packaging. There are ways of distinguishing – counterfeit toner won’t bear HP’s security logo, for example – but often the imitations are too accurate to be discerned. Moreover, unlike sellers of counterfeit watches, which go for reduced prices, sellers of HP counterfeit ink cartridges often match the prices of the original.
Whether HP will enjoy any success because of its BASCAP membership remains to be seen. Their existing anti-counterfeiting measures have paid some dividends – HP’s website notes that the manufacturer has seized 15 million false ink and toner cartridges in three years. Moreover, HP retains a full-time Anti-Counterfeiting force in existence solely to combat counterfeiting groups. The Force advises customers if they’ve fallen victim to a fake cartridge seller, and also performs sting operations. However, though glamorous, it is difficult to determine what impact such measures are having on counterfeiting groups. Judging by the yearly revenue HP is losing to the black market, counterfeiters are not yet going anywhere.
You can print your own professional looking marketing pieces in house, with great results, saving money off the bottom line.
Spend a little extra to purchase the right paper, or print media. If you are sending out postcards or printing business cards, do not try to make do. Purchase the appropriate paper. This will make layout easier and the end product will turn out much more professional. Do not try to use inkjet paper on a laser printer, or laser paper on an inkjet printer.
Today’s inkjet printers do an amazing job of delivering bright, colorful marketing materials. Get the most out of your printer settings. Explore your printer's manual or printing options, and get acquainted with the Properties menu of your print dialog box. There are many settings available that will determine the quality of print, as well as allowing you to select the appropriate paper type. You probably have more printing options than you realize.
Most printers will accept a variety of paper sizes. Not only legal and letter size, you may also be able to print on postcards, envelopes and more. It is easy to get accustomed to printing only letter size sheets of paper without ever exploring the other paper sizes your printer can handle. So find your printer manual, or look it up online, and read up on your printer's capabilities.
Final Note: Have plenty of ink, toner, paper, labels and all other supplies on hand. Stock up on a combo pack at Clickinks.com
. There is nothing worse than running out of ink or paper at the last minute.
How To Print with Invisible Ink
You have seen invisible ink in mysteries and fairy tales. Spies and royalty have been depicted using it for centuries to convey hidden messages for no one else to see. It has been used for both practical uses, and for fun – playing spy games.
Hundreds of liquids, from fruit juices to specially formulated chemicals, can be used as invisible ink. Here we explore some of the ways you can use invisible ink. I hope you will be inspired to make your own invisible ink at home. With a bit of practice, you too can become a master of security through obscurity!Baking Soda
– You have it at home, it has so many uses. You can draw with invisible ink now, using this simple ingredient. Mix equal parts of water and baking soda. Using a paintbrush, Q-tip or any other instrument you can turn the new baking soda solution into your invisible ink. Once your message is dry hold it up to a light bulb until the writing turns brown or paint over the paper with purple grape juice concentrate so the writing changes color. Soap
– Using a common laundry detergent or other soap, you can make a UV detected invisible ink. Using a stick or paint brush, you can write with the laundry soap. Simply make a photocopy using a copying machine to develop your message via UV light. Lemon Juice
– Another common household item, with another interesting application. Using a paintbrush, Q-tip or other stick, you can apply lemon juice as your invisible ink. Once your message is dry hold it up to a light bulb until the writing turns brown. Another way to read the invisible message is to put salt on the dry ink, then after a minute wipe the salt and rub the paper with a wax crayon. Ink cartridges
– If you really want to become a MacGyver or James Bond, then use you’re inkjet printer
to do it the right way. After purchasing your new Clickinks
ink cartridge, take your empty ink cartridge and you can repurpose it to print invisible ink in a professional, easy to read manner. This is also great for do it yourself water marks. You will need to pry open the plastic cap and remove the sponge. Completely wash all of the ink out of the sponge wipe any ink out of the cartridge. Replace the sponge. Use a syringe to inject the lemon juice or other invisible ink liquid into the sponge. Replace the plastic cap on the cartridge and then replace the cartridge into the printer. Make sure the text you print is in the color the ink cartridge originally was. Use the light bulb to reveal the secret message.
Have fun, and let us know what creative projects you will print in invisible ink.