Print’s not dead yet, and now one company wants to make it mobile.
An Israeli team has developed a simple, softball-sized printer that is compatible with any electronic device and can be used anytime, anywhere.
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The ZUtA Pocket Printer has broken printing down to its core. It does away with almost every component of a traditional printer and keeps only the most important part — the printhead.
“The world is mobile and to some extent we got used to having everything available around us,” ZUtA Labs co-founder Tuvia Elbaum told Mashable. “I was banging my head, it makes no sense. We’re in 2014, how come there’s no portable printer?”
Since it doesn’t require any special drivers, the device will be able to be accessed from computers, smart phones and tablets, either by using the traditional print function or an app. It will work with paper of any size and will print approximately 1,000 sheets of paper on a standard, replaceable ink cartridge. The printer will also be able to last for up to an hour on a full battery and can be recharged via a USB cable.
The device is designed so that users can line it up with the corner of the paper to make sure their documents come out straight. It then rolls across the blank sheet on small, multi-directional wheels while ejecting ink. The printer is meant for smaller documents, such as tickets or notes from a meeting, but for larger projects with multiple pages, it will wait for the user to place it on a new sheet of paper before continuing the job. An average page of text will be able to print in approximately 40-45 seconds.
This project came out of the Friedberg Entrepreneurship Program, which provided initial funding, use of facilities and professional guidance, while Elbaum and co-founder Matan Caspi were enrolled at the Jerusalem College of Technology. The lab’s name comes from the ancient Aramaic word for small.
The idea for the ZUtA Pocket Printer was inspired by personal necessity. Elbaum said that as an entrepreneur Mashablehe has often found himself working on the go and it baffled him that, given everything else we can do with them, we still can’t print from mobile devices. Other devicesadvertised as portable are constrained to the size of the paper they use, which means that they can’t be nearly as mobile as the ZUtU product.
“You didn’t have an app for that,” Elbaum said. “I wish my phone could print, but it can’t. It’s a worldwide issue.”
Right now, the team’s main focus is on completing a final working prototype of the printer, but it also has some long-term goals in mind. The first version of the device will only print in black and white, but a future incarnation could have color capabilities. It has only been tested on paper so far, but it could conceivably print on any material you can get your hands on, something that Elbaum hopes to look into soon.
The Kickstarter campaign for the ZUtA Pocket Printer has been wildly successful. It has raised more than $450,000 out of a $400,000 goal with 12 days still on the clock. The device, which will retail for about $240, is expected to go to production in September and be shipped to Kickstarter backers in January.