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Earth Technology

RITI Printer Uses Your Coffee Grounds For Eco Ink 184

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the no-tps-reports-until-my-printer-has-its-morning-coffee dept.
Jason S. writes to tell us that for those seeking to "go green" or those just wishing to try something different, RTI now offers a printer that uses coffee instead of ink. In addition to recycling your grounds, the printer also uses good old fashioned elbow grease to move the grounds cartridge back and forth, saving power. Sounds like a novelty that will die quickly as human sloth reasserts itself. "Hosted by Core77 and Inhabitat, this year's Greener Gadgets Design Competition resulted in an incredible crop of innovative consumer electronics designs, and we're excited to offer you the first scoop on some of our favorite designs! Jeon Hwan Ju's RITI printer works by replacing environmentally un-friendly inkjet cartridges with the dregs from your daily coffee. Simply place used grounds in the ink case, insert a piece of paper, and move the ink case left and right to print text."
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RITI Printer Uses Your Coffee Grounds For Eco Ink

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  • Supply (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MrEricSir (398214) on Monday February 02, 2009 @04:41PM (#26699149) Homepage

    With the amount of coffee I drink, the entire building would have an supply of used coffee ground ink.

  • by llZENll (545605) on Monday February 02, 2009 @04:41PM (#26699155)

    if you run out of coffee, you can brew up some TPS reports!

  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Monday February 02, 2009 @04:43PM (#26699183) Homepage Journal
    The kind that is completely impractical and stupid. I notice they didn't include any actual pictures of said device, or, more importantly, what a printout from said device looks like. I'll eat my hat if the lines are even and the color stays worth a damn and if the thing doesn't constantly jam up.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AuMatar (183847)

      As someone who once wrote printer firmware, I agree. Even ignoring color, absorption, and all the ink issues- how the hell are you going to make sure the ink cartridges are moved at a steady rate so that ink can be shot at the right time?

      • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Monday February 02, 2009 @05:01PM (#26699489) Homepage Journal
        As I think about it, the thing can't work like an inkjet, coffee grounds are not AFAIK magnetic. It doesn't seem like it would work like a laser printer either, as it would be difficult to build up enough charge from mere linear motion of the hopper to power a laser. Also, again, coffee grounds are not magnetic. As a thermal wax type printer it would fail too since coffee grounds burn, not melt. About the only mechanism I can think of that would work is just using mechanical pumping action on a microscopic scale, but that still doesn't answer the question of how you're going to grind up the grounds fine enough to be useful and more importantly, how you are going to get them to stick to the paper.

        The more I think about it, the stupider it becomes.
        • by HanClinto (621615) <<hanclinto> <at> <gmail.com>> on Monday February 02, 2009 @05:52PM (#26700297)
          With the two kinds of inkjet technology that I'm basically familiar with (bubble-jet and pezio-electric), neither of those require magnetic ink -- you can print distilled water if you want.
        • by Graff (532189) on Monday February 02, 2009 @05:52PM (#26700301)

          As I think about it, the thing can't work like an inkjet, coffee grounds are not AFAIK magnetic. It doesn't seem like it would work like a laser printer either, as it would be difficult to build up enough charge from mere linear motion of the hopper to power a laser. Also, again, coffee grounds are not magnetic.

          Why would magnetism even factor into this? The ink in an inket printer is not magnetic, it's a simple dye that is forced under pressure onto a page where it absorbs into the surface. Laser printer toner is also not magnetic, it is usually a fine plastic powder that can be statically charged and attracted to a charged drum. There is no magnetism involved.

          Coffee grounds can produce a liquid that stains and that's all you'd need for inkjet ink. I'm sure that the printing wouldn't be as good as commercial ink but it would probably be readable, at least for temporary documents. That being said I don't see this kind of device going anywhere. If you want to be "green" then throw those coffee grounds into your garden, trying to use them as ink is just way too impractical.

          • I'm sure that the printing wouldn't be as good as commercial ink but it would probably be readable, at least for temporary documents.

            It wouldn't really be readable at ordinary type sizes... Coffee isn't really all that dark in thin layers or in small amounts.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by samkass (174571)

        Well, technically you don't want to shoot the ink at the right time, but at the right place. You're only using time and steady motion as a way of calculating the place. There are other ways of calculating/measuring position... but of course it'd have to be mighty accurate.

        • by AuMatar (183847)

          No, there really isn't. Assuming the cartridge is in motion, by the time you figured out it was in the right place, it'd be too late. The code to determine position of a moving motor like that is quite complicated even assuming a constant speed- you need to deal with things like initial acceleration and deacceleration as well. I don't see how it can work and give good results.

    • by ivan256 (17499) on Monday February 02, 2009 @04:52PM (#26699347)

      It was a design competition. And I don't mean the good kind of design, where you get into technical details, either. More like the kind of design you get when you put marketing and upper management into a room together.

      This printer won't jam up, because it doesn't exist. File it with jet-packs, and flying cars under "fiction".

      • by gnick (1211984) on Monday February 02, 2009 @05:13PM (#26699705) Homepage

        Thanks for pointing that out (although there really are some functioning jet-packs).
        FTS:

        RTI now offers a printer that uses coffee instead of ink.

        No. They don't. They do offer some pictures of what one might look like if anyone ever (for whatever reason) built one.

        TFS is often exaggerated or slightly misleading, but rarely this blatantly wrong.

      • They're just rubbish.

        HTH.
         

    • by PitaBred (632671)
      ...that's because it's a design concept, not an actual device. It's not even prototyped from what I can tell.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by fishbowl (7759)

        I would actually like to be able to make a calligraphy ink from coffee grounds, never mind the printer application.

        • by turtledawn (149719) on Monday February 02, 2009 @08:52PM (#26702723)

          well, coffee is somewhat acidic, so start looking for recipes for acidic dyes. If you're doing calligraphy, you're probably springing for cotton paper, and cotton responds pretty well to dye baths with salt in them, so you could first start by brewing fine-ground espresso seven or eight times to get most of the pigments into the water, then add a bit of salt. If you're worried about longevity, then you could add some borax until youhave a neutral pH.

          I haven't actually made any inks for a few years, and when I did they were short-life and based on fresh plant pigments (spent, crushed irises make lovely inks, but they don't last worth a damn) so I don't have any other advice to offer.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Why is impractical and stupid green tech the best kind? Are you from Beta Pictoris and want us to ruin our planet before we discover yours and fuck it up, too?

      The best kind of green tech is more useful, less polluting, and cheaper.

      Nobody that disses the ecology ever drove past the Monsanto plant in Sauget before Nixon signed the Clean Air Act.

    • The kind that is completely impractical and stupid.

      Kind of like these stupid Wright bros who have the ridiculous notion that they can build a flying machine. Claptrap I say!

      Semi-serious point: While I am not going to be putting up any venture capital for this project, and all technology/ science must be met with skepticism, calling it completely impractial and stupid at this point is calling it too early. Lets wait until the tech either peters or pans out. If no further proof of concept is forthcoming, we can ignore it. If we call it stupid now, and sev

    • ... at greenergadgets.com [greenergadgets.com]

      Now... while I like the idea, I don't really see it working for real.
      It is a nice hippie pipe dream at best.
      Whoever "designed" it forgets that people don't use printers because they have bad handwriting, but because they need clear, efficient, quick and presentable printouts.
      Manually powered... I don't think so.
      Plus... that last point kind of defeats the eco-idea of the printer by itself.
      How much water would be wasted annually that way?

      Use:

      1. Insert a paper in the middle of the printer
      2. Put the coffee or tea dregs into the ink case on the top of the printer
      3. Move the ink case left and right as you draw on a paper
      4. When the print finishes, pull out the paper from the printer and wash the ink case

      Some other "designs" on the list are also intri

    • The kind that is completely impractical and stupid. I notice they didn't include any actual pictures of said device, or, more importantly, what a printout from said device looks like. I'll eat my hat if the lines are even and the color stays worth a damn and if the thing doesn't constantly jam up.

      Well, it's a design contest, so naturally there isn't an actual product yet, as that's not the goal of the contest, and going that far may not have been timely to get into the contest. I think the idea in general is quite sound. Most things i print out are worthless to me in a day's time, so if the ink barely keeps, that's fine with me. I can keep a regular printer for other stuff.

      And yeah, operating it by hand might not be the best idea, but it's just a concept after all. The important part of the idea is

    • by Ritchie70 (860516)

      That's because it isn't real.

      This is an entry in a design competition. A design competition is roughly equivalent to "artsy people who couldn't engineer their way out of a paper sack making up weird shit that couldn't really be built."

  • Compost (Score:4, Funny)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday February 02, 2009 @04:45PM (#26699209) Homepage Journal

    But if I use my coffee grounds for ink, what will I mix with eggshells to put in my garden?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by colesw (951825)
      Well after you see your terrible printouts you can shred your paper and put it in the garden?

      (not a gardener, I take no responsibility for your plants)
      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Paper will poison your garden. Used paper's only use (that I know of) is to make more paper.

    • by nizo (81281) *

      Printed on biodegradable paper, your printouts could later be recycled in your compost or eaten for a quick caffeine fix.

      • Re:Compost (Score:4, Interesting)

        by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday February 02, 2009 @05:27PM (#26699921) Homepage Journal

        Printed on biodegradable paper

        Hemp is illegal in this country. Wood pulp is toxic to most plants (and us too, which is why wood alcohol will make you blind while grain alcohol makes great mixed drinks), that's why it's hard to get grass to grow under a tree. And even if you used hemp (or grass or something else) paper, it would have to be acid-free paper to not kill your plants. Ironically a good source of acid-free paper is coffee filters, except that the coffee makes them acidic.

        Of course, you really want acid-free paper anyway. paper is for books, and you want your books to last as long as possible. Normal acidic paper (what you're running through your printer) lasts 50-100 years without extreme measures to keep it legible. I'm going to have to replace my paperback copies of the Foundation trilogy because after over four decades they're barely legible now.

        • I remember acid paper. The hippies would cut it into stamp-sized squares, like this one here, and you would paht eh ahn ya thangue lak thifs....Wooaah......When did Peter Max paint my office?
        • Re:Compost (Score:5, Informative)

          by Graff (532189) on Monday February 02, 2009 @06:09PM (#26700497)

          Wood pulp is toxic to most plants (and us too, which is why wood alcohol will make you blind while grain alcohol makes great mixed drinks), that's why it's hard to get grass to grow under a tree.

          What???

          Wood pulp is not toxic to plants. It's mostly simple lignin and cellulose which most plants will grow in quite happily. The reason grass doesn't grow under trees is that the shade from the tree is not good for the growth of grass. Even the "shade" varieties of grass can only tolerate partial shade.

          "Wood" alcohol is actually methanol and "grain" alcohol is actually ethanol. When you ferment grain you actually get both methanol and ethanol, it's through careful control of the fermentation process that you minimize the methanol and maximize the ethanol. That's why poorly-made beers and wines tend to give you hangovers, they have a lot more methanol and other undesirable byproducts.

          The reason methanol is called wood alcohol is because it was primarily produced through the destructive distillation of wood pulp. This doesn't mean that wood pulp is toxic, it just means that when you destroy wood pulp with heat in an anaerobic environment you produce toxic chemicals. If you take grain and treat it the same way then you'll produce methanol and other toxins. This has NOTHING to do with if wood pulp is toxic or not.

          Please, don't start spewing nonsensical chemical information unless you know what you are talking about. And, yes, I am a chemist.

          • Wood pulp is not toxic to plants. It's mostly simple lignin and cellulose which most plants will grow in quite happily. The reason grass doesn't grow under trees is that the shade from the tree is not good for the growth of grass. Even the "shade" varieties of grass can only tolerate partial shade.

            Maybe not *pure* wood pulp, but after that wood pulp's been processed and bleached, it's not as safe as you initially indicate. See this reference [findarticles.com] for details...

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Graff (532189)

              Maybe not *pure* wood pulp, but after that wood pulp's been processed and bleached, it's not as safe as you initially indicate. See this reference [findarticles.com] for details...

              Yes, the process of turning wood pulp into bleached paper [wikipedia.org] can produce chemicals that have an amount of toxicity. Small amounts of dioxins, for example, are produced when chlorine is used as part of the bleaching process. However, it would take quite a large amount of bleached paper to be of any danger to a person. The real risk to the older bleaching process was to the environment downstream of the paper mill. This is where the dioxins would concentrate and cause harm to plants and animals. The bleache

          • "The reason grass doesn't grow under trees is that the shade from the tree is not good for the growth of grass."

            Hate to bring facts into the debate, but eucalyptus
            leaves are toxic to other plants, and will kill them off, regardless of shade.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by amRadioHed (463061)

              To bring another fact into the debate, leaves aren't wood.

            • by Graff (532189)

              eucalyptus leaves are toxic to other plants, and will kill them off, regardless of shade

              Yes, a lot of leaves falling onto grass, piling up, and rotting can also kill grass. This is due to tannins in the leaves and the physical effect of the leaves choking off the grass's light and root systems. That still doesn't have anything to do with wood itself being toxic to plants, trees need to protect their leaves from insects by loading them up with toxins. The trunks of most trees don't contain significant amounts of toxins, with the exception of some trees like cedar.

              No matter, all I'm saying is

  • Coffee don't fax worth a damn!
  • Coming soon (Score:2, Informative)

    by hyades1 (1149581)

    No doubt the next big thing will be a urinal/generator fueled (indirectly) by beer. The Super Bowl could generate enough power to satisfy America's energy needs for the next three weeks. And the Stanley Cup Playoffs could wean the world off petroleum products forever.

  • What this really needs is one of those spring-wound generating mechanisms like the freeplay radio. Then you'd have a printer that *really* used no external power and you could walk away from it while its printing

    Of course, that would increase the size a bit, but (much like scraping out the waffle on Vietnam jungle boots) you can't have everything, am I right?

  • Okay, so it would be a waste of coffee had this device required fresh grounds... but now that you've brewed your java - what else are you going to use them for?

  • Make the best brown pigment but is a bit pricey http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopi_Luwak [wikipedia.org]
  • Meh! (Score:4, Funny)

    by srussia (884021) on Monday February 02, 2009 @04:53PM (#26699369)
    Maybe OK for all those all those twee sepia prints. Tell me when I can use my blood (magenta), my wife's blood (cyan), and our urine (yellow). It would surely be a lot less painful and cheaper than the current state of affairs.
  • the printer also uses good old fashioned elbow grease to move the grounds cartridge back and forth. Sounds like a novelty that will die quickly as human sloth reasserts itself.

    I would be much more willing to uses a stationary bicycle than a handcrank.

  • It can only print "hyper-text" and java code... Apologies to drs305 and JoshuaRL for stealing their comments
  • They'll scrounge for your coffee beans then charge $50 for a cartridge. At least it'll be enviro friendly :P
  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Monday February 02, 2009 @04:56PM (#26699413) Journal

    Seems to me the treatment of the Repetitive Stress Injuries incurred from operating this device would more than offset any environmental gains.

    There are motors in printers for a reason.

  • by bugs2squash (1132591) on Monday February 02, 2009 @04:57PM (#26699427)
    use sequestered carbon in a filament, contained in sustainably-harvested wood sleeve.

    Move hand around to create "printouts".
    • by operagost (62405)
      Don't forget to resequester the carbon immediately. After handing the "printout" to the recipient, snatch it back as soon as they're done reading, eat it, kill yourself, then bury yourself deep in the earth.
    • Hmm, most Sloshdatters are too young to recognize your innovative pencil design.
  • by taxman_10m (41083) on Monday February 02, 2009 @05:00PM (#26699481)

    What the fuck does that mean?

    • by Shivetya (243324)

      it probably is the crap in our office coffee machine.

      Stuff which makes potting soil look appealing.

      Considering its effect on our people perhaps they can link it with a gas recycling facility in the mens room.

  • by Duradin (1261418) on Monday February 02, 2009 @05:06PM (#26699583)
    And here I thought someone actually found a use for the burnt to a crisp more acidic than battery acid sludge that is supposedly break room coffee.
  • So you mean I have to get addicted to coffee before I can buy this printer...?

  • Old news (Score:4, Funny)

    by bugnuts (94678) on Monday February 02, 2009 @05:10PM (#26699649) Journal

    I have a mug-shaped coffee printer. Currently, it can only print 'o', but I suppose that's good enough if you're a ghost in UO.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday February 02, 2009 @05:19PM (#26699795) Journal
    The environmental issues with printers, so far as I can tell, are almost entirely products of certain marketing pressures, rather than any particular technological problems. That makes the adoption of an inferior technology seem rather pointless.

    In the case of inkjets, the trouble is not the ink(which is used in 10s of milliliters and doesn't contain anything especially nasty) or the cartridge(which could easily be made of a recycleable plastic); but the whole razor/blades model. The fact that it is, in many cases, cheaper to buy a new printer than a set of replacement cartridges for your old one(which will have clogged in any case, in all probability). As long as entire printers are made to be cheap disposable crap, making them out of anything but sunbeams and compressed happiness will result in mountains of junk. If they were actually designed for reasonable service lives, maybe even repair, you'd be fine with some basic ease of recycling features(choice of plastics, greater modularity). Ink isn't really the important bit.

    Lasers are more or less similar. Toner isn't exactly a salubrious tonic to the tissues of the lungs; but fine dusts never are, it is otherwise just plastic and carbon black, sometimes some iron oxide. If a friendlier material can be designed, great; but the real focus should be on the disposability of the printer and its components, and the power draw.
  • Funny, the page doesn't have a link to a printer-friendly copy of the article.

  • What? seriously how much power did that take to move a print head to and fro? I can see people printing large documents, you know the 50 page specs that you click print and then go off for a walk, last thing I want to do is have to move the print head by hand.
  • Ideas are ten a penny.

    Where the value comes is in the clever execution of those ideas.

    Or, to put it another way: Xerox invented the GUI and the mouse. When was the last time you used a GUI that Xerox had produced?

    Compaq have been credited with inventing the hard-disk based MP3 player [cnet.com]. The last time HP marketed a hard disk based MP3 player, however, it was a rebranded iPod.

    • by dubbreak (623656)

      Xerox invented the GUI and the mouse.

      Nope. That was done at SRI [sri.com]. So was the base research for the gui (scrolling pages, interacting with screens using the mouse etc). All funded with war money iirc.

      The researches from there ended up at Xerox PARC. Steve Jobs was introduced to the GUI at PARC, but it hardly started there.

      If you are interested in the history of the PC (and its tie-ins to drug use and the counter culture) I reccomend the book 'What the dormouse said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry [wikipedia.org]. Some

  • When it doesn't depend on bullshit...
  • Don't get me wrong, I love caffeine. I'm still a geek and everything. I just get it from sources other than coffee.

  • For a coffee break, that is.
  • It says that "No worries, it works just as well with tea."

    This doesn't make sense from the picture. Coffee can be ground pretty fine for espresso, but any decent tea is in loose leaves, which would most likely completely clog the tiny head pictured. Coffee is also ground in a quite variable amount of sizes, fine for espresso, pretty large for the french press.

    Not to mention the problem of figuring out how to get the tea/coffee stick to the paper.

  • Why wouldn't they use a hand crank instead? I would think a circular motion would require less effort.
  • After all, its' got a green-colored front panel, and the website has green colors.

  • UPS (Score:2, Funny)

    by tsnorquist (1058924)
    Looks like the perfect printer for UPS. "What can brown do for you".

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