All too often printers are the victim of their own functionality. Because they’re so good at placing ink onto bits of paper, people choose to ignore the creative capacity of these clever machines.
Thankfully there’s a select group of valiant pioneers pushing the boundaries of print technology in weird and wonderful directions, inventing and building unusual (and occasionally pointless) printing machines. Here we take a look at 10 of the wackiest printers around.
[Photo from Flickr]
In the good old days, before we turned into a bunch of chocolate-scoffing obesity cases, people would exchange painted hens’ eggs rather than Chocolate Creme Eggs at Easter. Today, we are far too busy being made redundant to sit around painting an eggshell, which coincidentally, is a particularly tricky canvas to paint onto due to its curved surface. What we need is a printer that will do the hard work for us. Thankfully, some genius has invented the Egg Drawer: the one gadget still missing in all of our lives. Now we can paint portraits onto eggs, instead of just wobbly stripes and spots.
This digital photo frame, with a 7 inch 800 x 480 resolution display, doubles up as a printer. Next time someone’s sitting in your living room and says “I really like that photo,” you can say “let me print one off for you!” and they’ll be thoroughly impressed. This digiframe also features a video player, multicard reader, USB connectivity, integrated speakers, adjustable brightness, and best of all: a mini remote control.
3. OLED Printer
How many printers does it take to change a light bulb? Well, none: if you’ve got an OLED printer, you’ll never need to change a light bulb again. Developed by the clever people at GE, this machine prints OLED (organic light emitting diode) materials onto rolls of metal foil. The foil can then be hung up around a room, or for something a little subtler, incorporated into wallpaper, curtains or ceilings for instant ambient lighting without the need for special fittings.
A graffiti tagger’s dream and a policeman’s worst nightmare, the GraffitiWriter is a programmable robot that sprays text onto the ground at a rate of 15km per hour. It’s small enough to avoid detection and fast enough to beat a hasty retreat if spotted. It’s already been used to vandalise the US Capitol Building. If you’re after something even more destructive, although rather more conspicuous, look no further than the StreetWriter, which is pretty much the same thing, just van-sized.
If you love vandalism, but can’t afford a GraffitiWriter, you could really benefit from the PrintBot. Made from an iRobot Create (essentially a Roomba Hoover, but without the Hoover), an old dot-matrix printer, an old PC and a counterweight, this printer does the petty crime so you don’t have to! At present, it only prints in talcum powder so its creations are transient: one heavy shower and the graffiti’s gone.
When great minds converge, revolutionary, life-changing inventions are conceived. The CandyFab 4000 has been built by the whiz kids at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories for the benefit of all mankind. What function does this wonder of modern technology perform? Why it prints random three-dimensional objects from nothing more than granulated sugar. Using a process of selective hot air sintering and melting (SHASAM), a beam of hot air liquefies and fuses sugar granules together to form 3D objects.
Is it a printer? Is it a table? No, it’s a printer table! (Just to be clear this is a table that prints and not a table for a printer.) This space saving slab has two drawers: one for loading the printer with paper and another for collecting printed pages. The invention, which is still at the design stage, will no doubt excite some minimalists and gadget lovers, but I think it might be solving a problem that doesn’t exist. Can’t you just put your printer on a shelf under your desk? I certainly wouldn’t want to risk resting my morning cup of coffee on it: electrical appliances and liquids just do not mix.
I do a lot of printing and buy a lot of ink, but the over-inflated prices of ink cartridges never ceases to amaze me. It doesn’t matter if you buy new ones or take your old ones to be refilled; it’s still a complete rip-off every time. The RITI printer negates the need for exorbitant ink altogether, using coffee and tea dregs instead. The “coffee-cartridge” has to be moved from side-to-side by hand, which would usually be quite tiresome, but after consuming the 10 pints of coffee necessary for printing your 100-page document, you’ll be thankful for any means of expending energy.
With this HP scanner/printer, a warehouse operative can scan a barcode or postcode, send the scanned data wirelessly to a warehouse management system or PC/laptop via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, and print a suitable, smudge-free, non-toxic label in a matter of seconds. The HP sp400 increases labour productivity, reduces operating costs by eliminating paper waste, and makes your staff look like a mixture between Robocop and Inspector Gadget. It’s probably the only sensible printer on this entire list!
There’s nothing more romantic than bringing your loved one breakfast in bed, especially when there’s a heartfelt “I love you” printed on the toast. You can try and try in vain with a candle, matches or a lighter, but it’s just not possible to produce the crisp typography that can be generated with a hacked CNC hot air gun printer. “Digital toast imaging technology” is another edible invention from the Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories.
About The Author: “Andy Boyd is a search consultant who works for a printer supplies company known for its range of Canon printer cartridges, paper and other print accessories. You can follow him on Twitter.”