People are constantly looking for cheaper alternatives for expensive resources. One of these resources is black printer ink. As it turns out, it is an expensive liquid because of how it’s made. However, if you think about how much black ink we use daily to print out work or school materials and how much waste it produces, it makes sense. It’s important to note that the ink itself is a carcinogen and even producing a month’s worth of cartridges can also emit CO2 equating to that produced by almost 500 households.
To reduce this kind of toxic waste in printing, organizations are looking for alternative solutions, one of which is coffee-based ink. Throwing coffee grounds would mean it would go to landfills and have a negative impact on the environment due to the methane gas it would omit. However, there are other environmentally friendly uses for coffee grounds. Some people use them as fertilizer and bug repellents. And now, printer ink might be an option too.
Does it work?
The RITI printer, by Jeon Hwan Ju, is a specially designed printer that supposedly uses coffee grounds to make ink. Sadly, the RITI printer and coffee-based ink is just a concept design that most likely never made it past the concept phase. Dozens of websites have reported about the RITI printer, but I couldn’t find a single one that had a link to RITI’s main website or any way to contact them. There isn’t even a way to purchase it.
— Dornans (TDP Ltd) (@ThomasDornans1) July 6, 2016
Although you can find tons of images of the RITI printer, there’s not a single video out there that shows it working. The earliest articles about the printer started out in 2009; I find it hard to believe that not a single person thought to record it and post it online if it was already invented.
RITI might turn out to be a false alarm, but coffee-based ink is definitely within the realm of possibility. Some people have found a way to use coffee as “ink” for calligraphy using brushes and a dip pen. The ink doesn’t last very long though. Caffe Inc is much closer to the vision of printing with coffee as they’ve developed textile colorings using coffee.
Since coffee grounds are essentially just byproducts of the coffee you’re drinking, you’d be spending virtually nothing if coffee-based ink ever becomes a thing. Hopefully, someday, someone will follow through with the concept and provide everyone with a cheap and green alternative for printer ink.
Photo credit: The feature image is symbolic and has been done by Christopher Isak with Midjourney for TechAcute.
Sources: Tercius Bufete (Consumer Reports) / European Parliament / Bob Gorman (Energy Central) / Perfect Daily Grind / Juniper Foo (CNET)