Full-color pocket-sized printers are now becoming a reality. The reason for this new innovation is that these printers don't use ink or laser technology like most other printers. Instead of ink, these printers use thermal heat to create millions of different colors on a special kind of paper called Zink paper (Zink stands for "zero ink") - these printers are surprisingly inexpensive as well.
The Zink paper doesn't contain any dye. Instead, this special paper is injected with millions of color crystals that stay colorless until heated. Each piece of photo paper contains 4 layers, and each layer is one of the CMYK colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, or black). This is the color combination for most of the printers on the market today. The pocket-sized printer produces high resolution photos by heating this paper, and thus "releasing" the correct color crystals for each individual photo. You science geeks out there will love this video which shows this process at work.
The Polaroid Digital Instant Mobile Photo Printer is one of the first pocket-sized Zink printer on the market. This 8 ounce Bluetooth printer will print 2 by 3 inch photos within seconds. You can use this printer with compatible cell phones and digital cameras. Look for this printer in stores very soon at a price of around $99.
Polaroid printer prints 2x3 inch Zink photos
The obvious advantage of a printer that uses Zink paper to print photos is that you don't ever need to refill any ink - so it could save money in the long-run. Another advantage of these printers is their size. Because these printers don't have the ink-jet or laser printer technology built-in, they are able to be much smaller than a traditional printer.
There's no word yet on pricing for the Zink inkless paper, but I'll keep you posted as soon as pricing is released.
Sources: Gizmag and Polaroid
Joe Eitel's Gadget Blog
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