We live in a predominantly digital world, where many artifacts like documents, images, and even currency now exist as a collection of ones and zeroes. Despite that, however, we still inhabit a very physical world, and “paper trail” isn’t something so easy to get rid of. From handwritten notes to official documents to purchase receipts, we still produce and use a lot of paper today, more than we actually need. Part of the problem is the unnecessary use of paper in instances where they don’t need to be used at all, but a bigger problem is the inefficient use of paper of different sizes. We often print out things on paper that may be too large for the actual content, so this printer concept tries to reduce that waste by using a roll of paper that you can cut down to the exact size you need.
Designer: Jisan Chung
There are standard sizes of paper for a very good reason. Imagine a world where there would be documents and files printed out in almost random sizes, making handling and archiving them a total nightmare. But as we move towards a future where many things are digital, many of these paper sizes have become unused save for official business or legal purposes. More importantly, we often print out images or even text that is smaller than the paper itself, leaving not only wasted space but also wasted material that will have to be thrown away.
Not all printed documents have that problem, though. Tape receipt, for example, prints what’s needed, and then you tear off only that printed portion. That doesn’t work for traditional printers, though, because all of these are designed with fixed paper sizes in mind. Enter the Roller Jet printer concept and prototype, taking a page from these more economical printers so that you can literally take a page that you need and only that page, with no wasted paper produced.
The Roller Jet is minimalism at its finest. The printer itself is almost too small to actually work, but that’s mostly because it doesn’t need any space for a paper tray. Of course, there are already portable printers like these, and they require people to ensure that the correct paper size is correctly fed into the bar-like device. There’s no need for such a stressful procedure here, fortunately, because the roll of paper is held up like toilet paper with a long steel rod that has been bent to form the frame and legs of the printer itself.
Yes, the Roller Jet uses a continuous roll of paper, similar to those tape receipt printers but on a larger scale. The idea is to print to the exact size that you need and then tear off only the part that was used. That would work not only for receipts, lists, or even gift wraps but also for regular documents, whether they’re A4 or larger. The paper is supposedly easy to tear off with one hand, but most of us are probably familiar with how that isn’t always the case with these things.
While the idea and functional prototype supposedly work as advertised, there are still some caveats that would prevent this from becoming the new standard in printers. For one, its size might limit it to using only specific printing technologies, like thermal printing or using only blank colors. The concept might also work fine for content that can fill the whole width of the paper, but anything smaller, like a square image, would still result in wide margins. Either way, it’s still an interesting solution that could become the foundation for more efficient and sustainable printers in the future.