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What is Conductive Ink and How Might It Change the Way We Print?
In an increasingly digitalised world, when most sectors are experiencing a mass migration to new and emerging digital technologies, traditional printing methods are struggling to keep afloat — with print manufacturers having to think outside the box and develop new, creative ways to keep the technology current, obligatory and in vogue.
And so far the leading printer manufacturers have done a good job of this — from Epson’s new refillable ‘EcoTank’ printer range to HP’s revolutionary network security firmware. But, when it comes to transforming the way we print, nothing looks set to have more of an impact than conductive ink.
For a number of years now, print technology researchers have been exploring the possible usages of interactive printing — with limited success. Now however, the development of conductive ink has made interactive printing from a standard inkjet or laser printer a reality. But what is this new ink, and how might it change the way we print?
Conductive ink is a specially developed ink containing materials such as silver, carbon and other substances which conduct an electrical charge. When this ink is applied to paper, card or plastic, the surface becomes touch sensitive and responsive — with users effectively able to move the ink around on the page.
While this technology may sound like something out of a science-fiction novel, the introduction of conductive ink has already happened. In fact, several print companies have already began using the ink to create exciting new interactive print medias, including print and electronics specialist, Novalia.
Speaking at the recent Packaging Innovations event in London, Kate Stone, managing director of Novalia, spoke at length about how the firm has began using conductive ink to bridge the gap between digital and print, and touched on ways other organisations can implement the technology to better compete in a world now dominated by digital technology.
Not only can conductive ink transform a standard printed page to one that’s interactive, the technology can be used in conjunction with specialist mobile connectivity tech — allowing the user to connect with a sheet of paper via their smartphone or tablet, via Bluetooth.
According to Stone, conductive ink will soon become a prevalent substance across a number of sectors, including advertising, packaging, healthcare and other media industries. Currently, conductive ink has been used to embed music and video in newspapers and magazines, create interactive album covers, and interactive billboards and promotional posters.
The beauty of conductive ink is that, pretty soon, it will be available for standard inkjet and laser printers, allowing domestic and business print users to experiment with the technology relatively affordably.
By effectively bridging the gap between traditional printed media and digital technology, conductive ink could well be the catalyst for a revolution in printed media, and one that looks set to keep printing technology alive for the foreseeable future.
But until conductive ink is readily available for everyday home and business use, print users will have to stick to standard ink and toner. If you rely on a printer everyday and want to save money on the on-going cost of print cartridges, try our range of affordable compatibles — click here to visit the Printhead homepage to browse our range of third-party compatible cartridges.
Image sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: Osamu Iwasaki