Researchers at the University of Cambridge have successfully used lasers to remove toner from paper, without causing any significant damage to the sheet.
Julian Allwood, leader of the Low Carbon Materials Processing Group at Cambridge, and doctoral student David Leal-Ayala reported their findings Wednesday in the University’s Research News.
The researchers also pointed out that the reusing of paper could save trees and reduce climate-altering emissions produced during paper manufacturing. Dr Allwood added, “what we need to do now is find someone to build a prototype. Thanks to low-energy laser scanners and laser-jet printers, the feasibility for reusing paper in the office is there.”
Allwood and Leal-Ayala tested out 10 different laser styles, with the help of the Bavarian Laser Center. Different laser strengths and pulse-settings were applied to Canon copy paper with HP Laserjet standard black toner. The results were checked under a scanning electron microscope, to test color, mechanical and chemical changes.
Allwood speculates that the lasers become widespread in office settings, and that the reuse of paper could also cut down on waste from the pulp and paper recycling industries, with emissions from paper incineration and landfill decomposition being affected as well. Document security could also be reworked, as paper shredding could be replaced.