Prototype black and colour cartridges created by 3D printing have been introduced by a Lincolnshire-based company.
The 3D-printed cartridges, thought to be the world’s first, can print at a comparable speed and quality to conventional Kodak branded cartridges they are modelled on.
"We're excited about a future where customers can download a 3D model of a printer cartridge - or any other object - to print at home, thereby avoiding excessive postage costs," said Tim Johnson, managing director of Inkfactory.com, which has manufactured the cartridges.
The company believes the technology can offer considerable money savings. While a conventional Kodak cartridge costs about £20, the material cost of the 3D printed one is only £1.60.
Moreover, if ordered via Internet shopping services, the customer usually has to pay for the delivery, which can amount up to £3 due to the large size of the cartridge. Shipping costs for the cartridge 3D printing kit would, on the other hand, be much lower, at about £1. Overall, the 3D printed cartridge would require a maximum investment of £5.
"We believe that domestic 3D printers will become widespread within the next ten years and this will have an impact on our industry that we cannot ignore," said Marc Liron, former Microsoft MVP and now head of printing research at Inkfactory.com.
"The 3D cartridge project is part of our research into the future of the domestic printing market," he said. "Today we decided to prove that it was possible, and highlight the opportunities for innovation that 3D printing presents for retailers and product designers in Great Britain."
The no-longer produced Kodak cartridges were chosen for the experiment because Kodak printers used to be advertised as having comparably low running costs; other branded cartridges cost even more.