Epson‘s PaperLab Turns Waste Paper Into New Paper

The Seiko Epson Corporation has developed what it believes to be the world‘s first compact office papermaking system capable of producing new paper from securely shredded waste paper without use of water.

Businesses and government offices that install a PaperLab in a backyard area will be able to produce paper of various sizes, thicknesses, and types, from office paper and business card paper to paper that is colored and scented. Paper as an essential communication tool is produced from a limited resource. As one of the leading companies in the world of printing, Epson has been deeply involved with paper used for its printer products. With this in mind, the company set out to develop technology that would change the paper cycle. With PaperLab, Epson aims to give new value to paper and stimulate recycling. In addition, recycling paper onsite in the office shrinks and simplifies the recycling loop. Users can expect to purchase less new paper and reduce their transport CO₂ emissions.

Product features

  • Office-based recycling process: Ordinarily, paper is recycled in an extensive process that typically involves transporting waste paper from the office to a papermaking (recycling) facility. With PaperLab, Epson is looking to shorten and localize a new recycling process in the office.
  • Secure destruction of confidential documents: Until now, enterprises have had to hire contractors to handle the disposal of confidential documents or have shredded them themselves. With a PaperLab, however, enterprises will be able to safely dispose of documents onsite instead of handing them over to a contractor. The machine breaks documents down into paper fibers, so the information on them is completely destroyed.
  • High-speed production of new paper: PaperLab produces the first new sheet of paper in about three minutes of having loaded it with waste paper and pressing the start button. The system can produce about 14 A4 sheets per minute and 6,720 sheets in an eight-hour day. Users can produce a variety of types of paper to meet their needs, from A4 and A3 office paper of various thicknesses to paper for business cards, colored paper and even scented paper.
  • Environmental performance: PaperLab makes paper without the use of water. Ordinarily, it takes about a cup of water to make a single A4 sheet of paper. Given that water is a precious global resource, Epson developed a Dry Fiber Technology.

Dry Fiber Technology consists of three separate technologies: fiberizing, binding, and forming. During fiberizing waste paper is transformed into long, thin, cottony fibers. This process immediately and completely destroys confidential documents. Since the PaperLab does not use water, it does not require plumbing facilities. That, plus its compact size, makes it easy to install in the backyard of an office. At binding, a variety of different binders can be added to the fiberized material to increase the binding strength or whiteness of the paper or to add color, fragrance, flame resistance, or other properties needed for a given application. Forming new papers users can produce sheets of A4 or A3 office paper and even paper for business cards thanks to forming technology that allows them to control the density, thickness and size of paper.

Epson plans to put the new „PaperLab“ into commercial production in Japan in 2016, with sales in other regions to be decided at a later date. A developmental prototype of the PaperLab was demonstrated at the Epson booth at Eco-Products 2015, an environmental exhibition that took place at the Tokyo Big Sight (Tokyo International Exhibition Center) from December 10th to 12th.

Photo: Seiko Epson Corporation