Redesigning the inkjet printer – work in progress

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This week we participated in the first of three workshops organised by the People’s Design Lab. It was an opportunity to learn from others with a background in design about their frustrations with printing. Interestingly, initial conversations revolved around a deeper question: why should we print at all? Why is it that certain airlines and railway companies do not allow for simpler e-ticketing practices? Why do we need to pay a premium at times for an sms-based ticket, which would save ink, paper, paper recycling, etc etc?

When we started to look at options for improving inkjet printers, a key element was participants’ frustration with wasteful ink cartridges: expensive, containing very little ink, too often hard to refill and therefore simply “recycled”. We want to see much more interoperability among cartridges: less wasteful design, less unnecessary chips embedded in cartridges and the adoption of systems such as continuous ink supply in standard consumer printers.

It is shocking that even though the European Union banned “clever chips” in printer cartridges over 10 years ago, we are still a long way from a transparent printer.

Openness is and will remain key: what about open source ink, easily produced at home? Not to mention, much more openness by manufacturers about ways to reduce waste, for example by avoiding unnecessary cleaning cycles and promoting positive practices for maintenance. In summary, there is a lot of work ahead of us. Stay tuned for more on this, and get in touch if you want to get involved.

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