Xerox Seeks Erasable Form of Paper for Copiers


During the 1970s, researchers at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center explored a software technique called garbage collection; used for recycling computer memory. The technique allowed the automatic reuse of blocks of memory that were storing unused programs and data.

Today an anthropologist at the center, Brinda Dalal, has become a self-styled garbologist; to assist in a joint effort with chemists at the Xerox Research Center of Canada to develop an system. The goal is to recycle paper documents produced by the company's copiers potentially an unlimited number of times. Story continued here.


Toner over time will flake off of paper. Laser prints are not archival quality. Eventually all the toner will flake off and you will have a blank piece of paper. If you want a paper document to last long term you need to use an ink based printing technology.

I'm not willing to accept that assertion from an anonymous poster, particularly given that it runs counter to all of the evidence I'm aware of, including studies by archives and permanence investigators.

Monochrome laser toner is itself a permanent medium (carbon black in plastic), and when properly fused should last as long as the paper it's fused to.

Any evidence that a properly-maintained laser printer using normal paper has had flaking problems? I've never seen them, and I've been using laser printers for a very long time.

National Archives of Australia agrees with the anonymous poster: /advice37.html#previous_advice

No, actually it doesn't, at least not for monochrome copies, which is all I was talking about. To quote directly (and that was one of the sources I checked before posting):

"Toners composed of stable resin materials and a stable pigment such as carbon black are capable of strong bonding to the paper surface. Copies using these toners and printed onto permanent or archival quality paper can be considered permanent and suitable for long-term storage."

Color printing is a whole different can of worms. Most "ink-based" color PC printing systems (that is, inkjet printers), at least until the last few years, would degrade within a few years, particularly if exposed to light: Dye-sub prints were the most stable back then.

Now, with Epson's DuraBrite formulations and similar formulations from other companies, you can get semi-archival color prints--if you don't mind spending around a buck a page, since archival quality requires not only the permanent (and pricey) color inks but the printer maker's own optimized paper stock, typically glossy or similarly high-priced and treated.