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New Type of e-Paper Can Be Used Up To 260 Times 81

Posted by samzenpus
from the e-erasable dept.
joaommp writes "Taiwanese scientists developed a new type of film that can be printed on a thermal printer and erased up to 260 times. The boffins at the Industrial Technology Research Institute claim it as an ideal replacement for paper signs and posters. It does not require patterned electrodes. It is based on a plastic film covered with cholestric liquid crystal, a type of liquid crystal structured similarly to cholesterol molecules and can be erased by simply plugging it to a power source and an A4 sheet costs only US $2. It is expected to be available to consumers within the next two years."
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New Type of e-Paper Can Be Used Up To 260 Times

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  • by immakiku (777365) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @03:27PM (#37047786)
    We've had etch-a-sketch for years now. The most of the point of printing is so that it doesn't get erased.
    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Can I re-print a page in the middle of a contract?

    • Just imagine all the printed out e-mails and it will suddenly make sense.
      Or you can just print a news article, and you don't have to stare at a glowing screen.
      Of course it has to become cheap enough.

  • ...A manufacturer has invented a more durable buggy whip using exotic space-age materials.

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      Did you seriously just compare paper to buggy whips?

      • Yes. Paper isn't ancient history like buggy whips but it's definitely in its twilight years. Sort of like horse transportation in the '20s I guess.

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          Paper isn't going to go away. Maybe the upper classes with their gadgets won't use it anymore but it will remain dominant around the world and used by actual normal people who aren't gadget freaks.

        • by macshit (157376)

          Yes. Paper isn't ancient history like buggy whips but it's definitely in its twilight years. Sort of like horse transportation in the '20s I guess.

          Er, no. You clearly spend way too much time watching Apple adverts or reading Engadget or something...

          There are certainly niches where paper usage is declining because of newer technology, but it's going to be a long, long, time -- if ever -- before paper can be described as being "in its twilight years."

        • by Yamioni (2424602)

          Paper isn't ancient history like buggy whips

          Well, actually, paper is far more ancient history than buggy whips, being that it was invented nearly 2000 years ago. The buggy whip can only be credited with about one-tenth of that. /Pedantic

          I get your analogy, but I'd say that paper is still far more relevant to humanity these days than buggy whips. Granted that relevancy is diminishing year by year as computers become more and more commonplace world-wide.

          Of course if you really want to split hairs, this shit shouldn't even be called paper. There

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Because that would just be weird !!

  • The only time I EVER print ANYTHING is one of the following

    - It is something I need to give or mail to someone else (assignment, form, etc)
    - It is something I want to keep forever in hard copy (a manual, a picture, a diagram to pin up)

    I don't see how having expensive, erasable paper will help either of these situations. The situation the manufacturer quotes doesn't even make sense - what is the use care for these paper signs you want to print off, and yet change all the time????

    • by trb (8509) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @03:43PM (#37047992)
      > what is the use case for these paper signs you want to print off, and yet change all the time????

      visitor badges, entry tickets, soup-du-jour sign, etc.

      • by adolf (21054)

        Of the many places I visit that require badges, all but one use a generic reusable badge (sometimes plastic, sometimes just laminated paper). This new tech doesn't beat that on a cost-of-materials basis.

        The one facility I do visit which has badges printed with the name of the visitor also uses a special process wherein the printing on the badge becomes contaminated with a red striped background after 24 hours or so, such that they self-expire in a visible and irreversible way....and this new widget doesn't

        • by trb (8509)
          Someone asked for a use case (implying that there were none), I provided some suggestions. I don't think anyone is saying that this stuff is a broad-spectrum replacement for paper. But in cases where paper is used for short-term storage, it might be handy. Re soup-du-jour sign, not only a sign, but the daily specials that are inserted into a restaurant menu and then tossed at the end of the day. Or any list that needs to be reprinted daily.
    • by Splab (574204)


      Brunes69 can't use the product, thus it is not useful!

      Good work there, you saved them a lot of money potentially wasted on marketing this product...

      Personally I'd love something I could print high quality pictures on and erase at a whim - I take 8-10000 pictures a year and perhaps 50 of those are print "worthy" (e.g. something spot on I want to hang on a wall) - I'd save a lot of money if I could just print on "top" of an existing picture whenever I wanted to switch them out.

    • by mattack2 (1165421)

      I don't see how having expensive, erasable paper will help either of these situations.

      Maybe not your uses, but I could see some uses:
      One time use things people print out for meetings (agenda, a chart, list, etc.)

      Something you want/need to read "more comfortably" (depending on the person) but won't need to keep forever, such as proofreading a long/technical document. Especially if you could have a 'pen' that wrote on this stuff in the same erasable way.

      I hate when people print something out rather than just

  • Don't think so. Wake me up when it does full colour, with a proper white background and the same kind of dynamic range as old-fashioned ink on regular paper.

    • by Jaqenn (996058)
      If you can blank it by applying a current to the entire paper, can you blank a portion of it by applying a small current to that part of the paper?

      In other words, can someone soldier together some kind of eraser-wand out of magnets and batteries and vandalize the posters by erasing portions of them?

      I guess it's no different than someone could do with a sharpie marker today, though.
      • "If you can blank it by applying a current to the entire paper, can you blank a portion of it by applying a small current to that part of the paper?"

        Do you want print AJAX driven web pages, or what?

  • Did many boffins die to bring us this information?

  • Unless it can play angry birds consumers will not react favourably to it.
    • by BluBrick (1924)
      Well it can play angry birds, but I'm still not convinced consumers will go for it. You see, the refresh rate kinda sucks.
  • It seems a case of 5,000 sheets can be readily had for around $45 or less. That means at leas 222 sheets for $2.

    As this can only be reused 260 times, that gives a rather small windows of savings. Seeing all the common things that can reduce/eliminate the suitability of paper for a second use (staples, holes for binders, crinkling, tears, etc) as well as sheer laziness and apathy of people...

    Office managers probably are better striving for a more paperless office to save $$$ and environment.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      It seems a case of 5,000 sheets can be readily had for around $45 or less. That means at leas 222 sheets for $2.

      I agree with your sentiment, but your analysis didn't include toner/ink, which is good for a penny or so per page.

      I guess this could be useful for the equivalent of "paper backups" - daily reports and such that don't get handled unless there is some kind of emergency. When it's no longer useful just put it in the eraser and re-use instead of the shredder. Hey! Another cost savings - no more shredder truck! :)

      • Requires a special printer though. How much does it cost? There is also a potential time cost. How long does it take to print compared to a copy machine? A copy machine can do between 20 and 80 sheets per minute.
      • by beh (4759) *

        Question for the pricing breakdown - can the e-paper be printed on on both sides?

        If not, the usable pages go up to 10.000...

        Also, trying to print a 50 page document, and your either US$50 (double-sided print) or US$100 (single-sided print) out of pocket - and you need to buy enough paper for the longest document you might want to print.

        Besides, reprinted 260 times only really works, if you treat the epaper fairly carefully... Once it has been folded a few times / crumpled / ... I'm not sure you can still g

  • ...erased up to 260 times... and an A4 sheet costs only US $2

    (1) You'll have a job selling a European pinko-commie A4 sheet measured in spawn-of-the-Devil millimeters* for US dollars. They'll give up their 8.5 x 11 God-fearin' inches Letter when you pry it from their cold, dead 3-ring binders.

    (2) More seriously, that price has got to come down before it makes financial sense. Lets see - A4 paper... google.. about $3.83** for 500 sheets, so to break even you'd need to use each bit of ePaper, hmmm... $2 / ( 3.83 / 500) ) equals... 261 times! Oh, wait....

    (* They say

    • by fedos (150319)

      The least expensive Google Shopping result that I got for "A4 paper ream" was $8.99 for Hammermill Fore Multipuprose. This comes to about $0.018 per sheet. So the break even point for this ePaper would be 111 1/4 sheets. So your two real cost issues are:

      1) The startup up costs of buying the printer: will any thermal transfer printer do, or do I need get a special one for this type of paper?

      2) Actual sheet lifetime: is the ePaper durable enough to last the 260 reprints, and will my employees remember not to

      • by itsdapead (734413)

        The least expensive Google Shopping result that I got for "A4 paper ream" was $8.99 for Hammermill Fore Multipuprose.

        Because A4 paper is a specialist item in the land of US Letter, DUH! The sensible cost comparison is with your local default paper size.

        My guesstimate was based on UK prices - £3/ream - take off the 20% tax that includes, multiply by $1.6 and you have about $4. I just looked on amazon.com and you can get US Letter (in the US) for $3.72, so I was pretty much on the money.

        Actually, I'm sick of people who seriously make the complaint "the cost has to come down" when things like this are still in the research/development phase

        Sure the cost will come down - but what to? Even if the cost comes down to 10 cents, you'll still need to re-use each sheet an aver

  • Even ignoring the issues with the required tech and the price, a problem remains: There's no way a sheet of paper will remain pristine enough to pass through a printer 260 times without jamming under any kind of realistic conditions.

    I highly suspect that even under completely unrealistic usage conditions, it'll jam the printer after the 5th-10th time or so. Printers bend the paper and don't have perfect alignment, and that's got to add up eventually.

    Besides, it's a thermal printer. Nobody uses those except

  • I could see this as part of a countries currency. Mind you not the whole note. But you could have a strip on the currency that gets updated with a new code everytime it hits a bank. Then replace the notes after the 200th use. Could be used for tracking currency and preventing counterfitting.
    • It could be used the following way by merchants. Each bill would have a strip with a code. If the code is wiped then the bill becomes worthless. Buisnesses could be given that a machine that wipes the code after transfering the money to a bank account. The money in the account would free up when the physical bills are deposited at the bank. Thieves would not be able to use the processed bills. Bogus codes could be printed on the bills. But these would be declined when a merchant processes the bill.
    • The whole point of cash currencies is that they CAN'T be tracked. If you start tracking my currency, I'll find another that can't be tracked!
    • by BillX (307153)

      Someone should alert Zimbabwe. They could save a bundle not having to reprint all the bills each week, just update the dollar value on them each time the bank turns them over. Take that, hyperinflation!

  • Well, I can see this can be used at some point as funky wallpaper and commercial posters. It makes sense of-course, the thing that would make it really stand out would be if they also developed a way to print on it without taking it down. So if they can have a printer head, that is the size of the sheet of paper itself, that you use sort of like a stamp. You select an image, touch the printer to the paper and it leaves the necessary impression - picture on the paper and you didn't have to take the paper do

    • by Yamioni (2424602)
      Using this as changable wallpaper is a really awesome idea. If nothing else you could simply change the color of your walls to/from white/black in summer/winter and help augment your heating and cooling bills. Me? I'd design my own wallpaper and change it every month or so. Plus you could print family photos and artwork directly onto your walls! No more frames to square up every time your fat buddy comes over.
  • Here's hoping that one day my fellow idiots in the USA will adopt standard paper sizes... Along with all the other international standards they so blatantly love to ignore.

  • What B.S. I can buy more than 260 sheets of paper for $2 (yea, I pay attention to sales and buy several reams at a time.) So why would I ever fool with this junk when simple paper is less expensive, and I can print it with existing technology, can keep it indefinitely (not going to do that with $2 a page printouts) and I have all the other benefits of normal paper (including color printing)? Seems like something for fools with too much money like Ed Begley jr, but outside of a few wackos who is going to fal
    • by Yamioni (2424602)

      but outside of a few wackos who is going to fall for this?

      I dunno, maybe people that like the environment, and don't take pride in fucking mother nature up her ass just to save a couple pennies on a sheet of paper? But then you'd probably call those people wackos too wouldn't you?

      • Sure would. They seem like the same wackos who overpay for hybrid or all electric cars to "save the environment", without considering the greater impact that manufacturing the wacko vehicles has on the environment over the traditional vehicles. And don't even get me started on the absurdly inefficient way that they burn natural gas to make hydrogen to power fuel cell cars rather than just making natural gas powered cars. But hey, as long as you can use offensive language to defend your narrow and simple min
  • Soon we will be told that powering all these ePaper displays costs more environmentally than simply using a new piece of paper, like let's say because generating the power requires resource consumption that has worse impact on the environment. Of course I'm being sardonic, because this HAS happened before, supposedly green technologies that cost more than they save.

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