Biodegradable printer ink cartridges developed by SFU students

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Written by: Karissa Ketter, news writer

Students at the SFU School of Sustainable Energy Engineering developed a refillable ink cartridge system for home printers. The product, SustainInk, is designed to “transform a conventional ink cartridge printer into a reusable, refillable ink tank. ”

SustainInk hopes to Reduce waste on landfills of elmimicking the need for ink cartridges and making home printing affordable for students.

Project leader Eddy Sanderson reported that the team used a 3D printer with biodegradable material to make the cartridges. SustainInk reservoir material can biodegrade in a commercial facility in 80 days.

“We’re trying to make a different type of algae-based ink that is carbon negative,” added Sanderson.

According to Sanderson, many are standard printer cartridges are not properly recycled because some of the inks contain heavy metals that [can’t] are properly broken down – many of them end up in landfills, where they further contaminate the water systems. ”At the moment 20-30% of the ink cartridges are recycled.

“We are trying to eliminate the landfill aspect.”

SustainInk also focuses on “how to make printing more accessible to students because it is extremely expensive”. According to Sanderson, printer cartridges have a 700% markup on the market. Alternative reports have given the “average markup for ink cartridges”idges is 1,000% to 2,000%. “

Sanderson said once consumers buy a company’s printed matterr, “[they’re] foforced to keep buying the same refills for this system. So it keeps you in a cycle in which you have to spend more than it’s actually worth. “

Their study found that the Annual printing costs are around $ 700 for ink cartridges, while SustainInk could print the same amount for less than $ 50 a year.

Ink supply printers start at around $ 800, Sanderson said.

This project was inspired by the move to online learning due to COVID-19. Many of the SustainInk team members had to buy printers at home. They quickly discovered that “buying a refill ink costs almost as much as buying a new printer that is unsustainable”.

The team responsible for SynthaSift includes SFU students Akash Bains, Ryan Cordoni, Erin Flood, Alia Gola, Dana Kadoura and Aiden Rudy.

You can find more information about SustainInk at Youtube.



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