This portable device concept brings printing back to its early days

This portable device concept brings printing back to its early days

With the increasing number of digital documents, it almost seemed as if printed paper was about to disappear. Of course, that is not true, as more books and documents are being printed every year. Printing has been at the center of our civilization ever since man invented a way to put ink on paper without handwriting each letter some 6,000 years ago. Fortunately, of course, printing has evolved from pressing inked pieces of metal or wood onto parchment, but it has also become more independent and less personal over the centuries. Of course, it was a matter of practicality and survival of the fledgling business of printing, and we cannot imagine going back to that antiquated past. That said, you might not have to go that far to get a taste of the good old days with this rather curious device that allows you to print by hand, almost literally.

Designer: Joon Yeol Bae

Mobile printers are actually nothing new, but they are often designed for a very specific use case. These little boxes are usually meant for printing small photos, often in the popular Polaroid format. They’re actually more like special-purpose portable photo printers than something you’d use to print documents. There are other portable printer designs that are more like long bars that you have to hold steady as you move them down a page.

DUAL is a conceptual device that tries to combine the best of both worlds by offering a handheld or portable printer that, ironically, you don’t have to hold all the time while using it. It has rollers at the bottom that move the paper or itself along a flat surface, automating that part of the process. Of course, you can still put your hand in the tent shape of the device to get the feeling of more direct interaction with the print.

DUAL’s design is quite quirky in that it also straddles the line between typical printers and portable printers. It takes up less space on a desk compared to a box printer, but it’s also something you can’t easily fit into your bag to take outside. It has the advantage of being much more aesthetically pleasing than your average printer, serving as an interesting piece of decor when not in use.

The unconventional design of the printer means that it also requires an unconventional ink cartridge. Instead of the typical long blocks or cartridges, DUAL uses a custom rounded rectangular container that holds all four colors together. Given the portability of the device, it might have been more efficient to use one of those inkless printing technologies, although that, in turn, would require the use of special paper.

DUAL’s name actually comes not from its form but from its function. It also has a scanner on the top half of the device that can scan documents or images the same way you would use a bar-style handheld scanner. Given that feature, DUAL is actually a TRIO, as it can effectively copy a document by scanning it and then printing it. It’s effectively the same way those all-in-one printers copy documents, except you have to do the process a bit more manually, just like the old days.

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