We’re not ashamed to admit it and we’ve said it before – printers aren’t very exciting. With so much emphasis on speed, running costs and functionality, printer design usually gets overlooked and we end up with armies of identical grey boxes. Fortunately, there are designers and engineers out there striving to get printers the attention they deserve and make them interesting again.
One such person is Mugi Yamamoto, an industrial designer and creator of the Stack – a printer which has no paper trays. This probably sounds like a dream come true if you’ve ever had a “Tray 2 Load A4” message half way through a print job or struggled to clear a paper jam.
Yamamoto developed the Stack for his diploma project, in which he set out to design a printer that was smaller, easier to use and more attractive than a traditional desktop printer. The result is an inkjet device that “eats” its way down a stack of paper, printing as it goes and depositing the freshly printed pages on top of itself.
By eliminating the paper tray, Yamamato says he has dispensed with the bulkiest part of the traditional printer, along with the need for frequent reloading. In place of the tray is a set of rubber wheels which moves up and down the length of the paper and pulls it through the printer using friction. As a result, the Stack is low maintenance, simple to operate and portable.
The Stack is still in the prototype phase and Yamamoto concedes that “more development and refinement needs to be done” to turn the Stack into a commercially viable product. One such refinement is how to keep large piles of paper neatly stacked whilst protecting it from the effects of dust and moisture.
To build the prototype, Yamamoto cannibalised mobile printers and assembled it after a certain amount of trial and error. He hopes to team up with engineers to improve the design, making it cheaper and easier to build.
If it’s successful, the Stack will be more environmentally friendly to produce, take up less space and be far more interesting to look at than traditional printers. We’d love to see if Yamamato can succeed with the Stack but, in the meantime, we can’t wait to see a video of it in action.
by Anthony Morgan