ZINK Imaging (short for Zero-Ink Imaging) is a privately held, Massachusetts-based company, that is the inventor of the ink-free printing technology platform, ZINK Zero Ink, and is the manufacturer of ZINK paper. ZINK Imaging has invented a new way for consumers to print and experience full color digital images without the need for ink cartridges or ribbons.
ZINK Imaging markets the versatility of its technology by envisioning a world where ZINK printers are integrated into consumer electronics like GPS devices, laptops, mobile phones, digital picture frames, and digital cameras. ZINK Imaging hopes that printers using the ZINK technology will change the way the world thinks about printing and image making. ZINK's emphasis of the simplicity of the technology is reflected in the company's mantra, "A new and simpler approach to printing" and the focus on wide-spread integration is seen in the company's haiku, "Digital printing, magically simple, ZINK for everyone" and that with ZINK, "almost anything can become a printer, making printing an anytime, anywhere experience.
The first product using the ZINK Technology is available now in Europe and the US — a pocket-sized mobile printer, the Polaroid PoGo. Additional companies are readying the launch of many other ZINK-enabled devices.
ZINK Imaging’s headquarters and research and development labs are in Massachusetts, with a state of the art manufacturing facility in Whitsett, North Carolina.
In October of 2005, current ZINK management, in conjunction with private investors, purchased from Polaroid Corporation the technology and physical assets and hired the innovation team that now make-up ZINK Imaging. In 2007, ZINK Imaging purchased a Whitsett, North Carolina factory from Konica Minolta Manufacturing in order to manufacture its ZINK Paper.
The ZINK Technology encompasses both the ZINK paper and the intelligence embedded in every ZINK-enabled device. ZINK printers create a photo print without the use of ink, toner, or ribbons, making the technology unique to the printing industry. The technology includes over 100 patents and patents pending.
ZINK's printing media is designed, exclusively, to work with the company's thermal printing technology. ZINK Paper is an advanced composite material with cyan, yellow, and magenta dye crystals embedded inside and a protective polymer overcoat layer outside. The patented crystals embedded in the paper are called amorphochromic dye crystals. Initially the crystal dyes inside the ZINK paper are colorless, giving the paper a blank, white, appearance that is not unlike traditional photo paper. When heat is applied in just the right way, full color images appear like "magic" on the paper - hence ZINK's term, "magic paper".
According to ZINK, the advantages of ZINK printing media over traditional photo paper are the media's durability (to light, water, handling, heat and humidity), recyclability due to non-toxic chemicals, low cost, high print quality and resolution, and that sheets can be made of arbitrary dimensions to fit any project. The current 2"x3" ZINK photo paper features an adhesive back. Because of the self contained nature of ZINK photo paper, ZINK has adopted the slogan, "Just add ZINK Paper".
The proprietary dye crystals that give ZINK prints their color are called Amorphochromic crystals. The crystals, an entirely new class of molecules, were invented by ZINK Imaging Scientists through a lengthy discovery process. The properties of each dye crystal are finely tuned by the scientists to achieve the color palette and image stability required for full-color digital prints consistent with traditional ink photo prints. ZINK scientists invented a way to activate each of the crystals independently using heat pulses of precisely determined duration and temperature to achieve the desired color. Exposure to specific temperatures causes the crystals to transform into either cyan, magenta, or yellow, depending on the type of crystal.
Because ZINK's printing technology eliminates the need for ink cartridges, and consequently the need for refills, the printers can be made compact and discrete. ZINK's printing technology utilizes thermal printing techniques to apply specific amounts of heat onto chemically coated sheets of paper. ZINK's thermal printer is designed to move the media underneath thermal print-heads at a consistent speed while also applying the necessary amount of heat for the necessary amount of time. A ZINK thermal printer takes the paper and uses a particular heating process to develop each color (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) and, so, produce an image.
ZINK Imaging is the technology inventor and manufacturer of ZINK Paper. ZINK is building a network of innovative global companies to bring ZINK-enabled products to market under their brand name. ZINK Imaging's partner network leverages the ZINK brand to communicate that their products and customer experience are enabled by ZINK technology.
ZINK partnered with Polaroid to bring the first ZINK-enabled device, the Polaroid PoGo Instant Mobile Printer, to market. The Polaroid PoGo hit store shelves on July 6, 2008. The Polaroid PoGo uses integrated bluetooth to connect to a mobile device and print pictures. A built in mini USB port allows any camera with PictBridge support to print to the device.
ZINK Imaging owns and operates a manufacturing facility in Whitsett, North Carolina. Located on 85 acres, the 343,000 square foot facility consists of a 285,000 square foot manufacturing building, a 27,000 square foot utility facility, and 31,000 square feet of office and laboratory space. It is located approximately 20 miles east of Greensboro, N.C..
The majority of reactions to ZINK's technology and the PoGo Printer appear to be positive. ZINK has been cited as a disruptive technology that has a chance of reshaping the photo printing industry. InfoTrends has come to the consensus that "the U.S. digital photo printing market could easily be in decline by 2010 unless vendors and market conditions change course". ZINK Imaging's disruptive technology could find a natural market in an otherwise stale digital printing sector. Don Dodge predicts that ZINK technology will be popular due to its low price. In the Wall Street Journal column, The Mossberg Solution, Katherine Boehret praised the cool factor of the PoGo Printer, noting that the images were convenient, as well as "sharp and colorful" but also criticized the battery life of the device as its main flaw.
ZINK Imaging has received a number of awards for its innovative technology. Laptop Magazine presented ZINK Imaging with a Mobile Maverick Award, citing that the technology may one day be integrated with many common consumer electronics and that while the analysts are putting less value on a traditional physical print, ZINK may successfully target the casual printing market. Computerworld awarded ZINK Imaging the Horizon award for the company's "game-changing 'ink-free' approach to printing". AlwaysON selected ZINK Imaging as one of the 100 top Private companies, and noted that ZINK is providing "new business opportunities in high-growth markets, demonstrating significant market traction and pursuing game-changing technology in a key sector.
In anticipation of the launch of the Polaroid PoGo Printer, Polanoid, a independent photo sharing online community, launched a project in which users competed to modify ZINK paper media in artistic and unorthodox ways. The project, dubbed 'ZINK O LUTION', encouraged users to pick up house hold chemicals and heating appliances in order to modify the heat sensitize ZINK media. The contest ran the month of June 2008, and the winner received the "very first" Polaroid PoGo Printer.
Zink patiently awaits chance ; Though he's stuck in Double-A, Charlie Zink is still trying to force his way into Boston's plans.
Jul 11, 2007; KEVIN THOMAS Staff Writer Portland Press Herald (Maine) 07-11-2007 ZINK patiently awaits chance ; Though he's stuck in...