Temporary paper saves 80% of office waste says researchers at XeroxThis week, research labs at Xerox announced that their scientists have invented a way of printing to paper which only lasts for a day — as in the paper will fade back to complete white within 24 hours, making them totally reusable. The actual technology is in the paper itself. Scientists said that they were able to create a paper that reacted to certain wavelengths of light, and by using these special wavelengths, images and text were printable on the paper.

The technology was discovered by the Xerox Research Center of Canada (XRCC) in conjunction with researchers from the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Discussions were held on ways to save paper in the environment and rely less on printed material. After talking with customers and clients however, most expressed a need to still have things printed and have something that which they can hold and read. According to the press release:

To develop erasable paper, researchers needed to identify ways to create temporary images. The “a-ha” moment came from developing compounds that change color when they absorb a certain wavelength of light but then will gradually disappear. In its present version, the paper self-erases in about 16-24 hours and can be used multiple times.

Researchers at Xerox say that now they are working on developing the printer that can print to the new type of paper. The paper would be erasable either by naturally letting it fade over time or by using a special light or by exposing it to heat. The paper would be used as temporary documentation and used for things such as meetings where charts are passed out. For more concrete type purposes such as contracts, normal paper would be used.

Xerox says that temporary erasable paper will be part of its ongoing research, which it plans to bring to market within the next few short years. Eric Shrader, manager for PARC indicated that Xerox’s research will help save 80% of wasted paper in the office. Shrader said “our experiments prove that it can be done, and that is the first step, but not the only one, to developing a system that is commercially viable.”

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