Seiko Epson Corporation has developed what it believes to be the world’s first compact office papermaking system capable of producing new paper from securely shredded waste paper without the use of water. Epson plans to put the new ‘PaperLab’ into commercial production in Japan in 2016, with sales in other regions to be decided at a later date.
Although the machine will not be available for commercial printing facilities like ours here at House of Print – at least for the time being, it is still good news for the environment, something which is very close to our hearts. Businesses and government offices that install a PaperLab will be able to produce paper of various sizes, thicknesses, and types, from office paper and business card paper to paper that is coloured and scented. The colour of the paper is adjusted by changing the colour of the binding agent.
As a leading company in the world of printing, Epson has been deeply involved with paper used for its printer products. With this in mind, the company set out to develop technology that would change the paper cycle. With PaperLab, Epson aims to give new value to paper and stimulate recycling.
PaperLab produces the first new sheet of paper in about three minutes of having loaded it with waste paper and pressing the Start button. The system can produce about 14 A4 sheets per minute and 6,720 sheets in an eight-hour day. The system works according the following process. Firstly, the sheets are loaded into the machine which fiberises the sheets through a shredding process. It is in this process that any toner which is on the paper is removed. The bonding agent is then added which allows the paper fibres to adhere to each other. The final step is the rolling process which essentially forms the new sheet of paper. It is in this stage that the size and thickness of the paper is set.
Users can produce a variety of types of paper to meet their needs, from A4 and A3 office paper of various thicknesses to paper for business cards, colour paper and even scented paper.
PaperLab makes paper without the use of water. Ordinarily it takes about a cup of water to make a single A4 sheet of paper. Given that water is a precious global resource, Epson felt a dry process was preferable.