Self Erasable Paper by Xerox

Self erasable paper will soon be a reality!

The paperless office is still a myth. Paper consumption in offices is skyrocketing day after day. Even with the advent of various digital communication means like desktop publishing, content management systems, e-mails, e-books and business deals getting sealed at lightning speeds, it is paper which is running the show. Studies have revealed that about 40% of printed pages are viewed only once, then they are put to shredding machines and finally to the waste bin. There are no indications whatsoever in the reduction of its consumption.

Various companies are trying out innovative methods to switch to ‘less paper’ office if not ‘paperless’ offices. But when Xerox comes touting about such efforts, it does raise a few eyebrows. It is now trying to erase its image of being just a paper company. The latest its research lab is publicizing about is the self-Erasable paper.

self erasable paperThe print on self erasable paper fades out with time naturally or on exposing it to a special light or to heat. Sounds like magic right? The technology used is; the paper is coated with same molecular compound as that in tinted eyeglasses. This compound darkens or lightens depending on the amount of UV light in the environment. It reacts to certain wavelengths of light. Images and text are printed on the paper using these special wavelengths.

The prototype printer that is being developed does not use toner or ink. Instead it uses paper that is coated with photo chrome molecules and a light bar with a specific wavelength of light as the writing tool. The cost of such self erasable paper is three to four times the regular papers and the main advantage is it can be used hundreds of times. Xerox intends to come out with this product in another few years.

Reading this, triggered my thought process and I am quite delighted about the possible uses and saving trees in the long run.
Possible usages of such papers as I foresee are:

    • Companies that generate information and reports which become stale overnight and those that need frequent temporary documentation can benefit with these papers.
    • Reports that are distributed to employees for supervision purposes and then are to be shredded can be written on such papers.
    • Reports which are to be updated frequently can be done by reloading the used reports in to the printer and write over them.
  • Children’ drawing pads. (In this case however special pens have to be manufactured for this- opens up a new market.)

Limitations of Self Erasable Paper

    • Using them in Newspaper industry the biggest paper consumers is not a good idea, unless you want the truth to vanish in 24 hrs.
    • And the bosses need to be careful and double check whether the memos are being issued on a non-erasable paper or not.
    • Users have to be careful while writing over them, wrinkling or messing the paper will jam the printer. So copier machines with better feeder tray rollers are required for this.
  • Use the same color to rewrite, to make it difficult to find out what was written on it before.

The last two points makes me think: isn’t Xerox actually building up a base to market its future products. Products those are specific to the Erasable Papers i.e. their copier machines… some long term planning here. Xerox is doing a commendable job and if the product is delivered successfully, it will save a lot of paper.

Well, anything that goes to save trees – a vital part of our ecosystem, is most welcome.

Image from: Focus on Innovation.

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10 Responses to “Self Erasable Paper by Xerox

  • I agree, our trees must be saved – and this is as good a way as any to reduce the use of paper.

  • I could not agree with you more, Indrani. The paperless office is a great concept, but it doesn’t really work …..

  • Never heard of this kind of paper. Very interesting. Hope it works out, something has to be done.

  • Interesting concept. Hope it works.

    An informative post Indrani. Thanks for sharing.

  • Sometimes I think you’re like a magician Indrani, pulling out such
    rabbits of information and leaving us gasping :-)))

    A very interesting read.

    David’s observation is true, the concept is great, but it’s yet to
    be made a reality..!!!

    Probably one needs to think different… Who’re the paper doc
    lovers… and what’s to be given – that’ll stop them using paper.

    any cumbersome system of usage will leave only some concerned
    top men or the tree lover alone to undergo the ordeal :-)))

    May be some simple handheld device that can capture data, sort and
    keep for easy retrieval (prefer voice command)- data projection
    can be on to any surface – and easy on the eyes.

    Present – computers, pdf files
    etc., are very primitive :-))))

    Researchers can watch some Bond movies for inspiration..!!!!

  • Thanks Raji. When giant companies take such greening efforts, there is some hope of green future.

    Thanks and yes David paperless office doesn’t work but ‘less paper’ office is a possibility with this product.

    Thanks Sharon and Thanks Celine, hope it works.

    Thanks Kat. Magician and me? You make me laugh. :))
    But you do have some good ideas on this “simple hand-held device…”

  • Wow, Indrani
    Good post! Of late notebooks carry green messages, but we end up buying more of them. Will there be a time when one year’s school copies can be reused in the next? :))

  • Lovely article Indrani. You do make such relevant and topical posts 🙂

    To translate a thought/concept into something workable then make it economically feasible is something that definitely does take time . But the fact that people ARE thinking on these lines is very heartening indeed . It is very assuring to know that commercial products are being developed by those with the eye on the environment .

  • that does sound like a good idea..on the other hand, the culprit today is the ink that we use…But well, when i read on the inside pages of newer books that it is made from recylced paper, i realize that there is hope for this planet..

  • Thanks Swarna… erasable papers for notebooks??? My Arundhati will be the happiest. 🙂

    Thanks Shubha
    and Maddy… there is hope for this planet.

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