Technology

How it Works

ZINK® Printing Technology -- short for Zero Ink® -- represents a true revolution in printing.  ZINK produces photo-quality, full-color output without using ink cartridges, ribbons, or toner. With more than 170 current and pending patents, ZINK Technology combines major advances in chemistry, engineering, physics, image science, and manufacturing.

ZINK Technology encompasses both the ZINK Paper® and the intelligence embedded in every ZINK-enabled device.  The fundamental concept is simple, yet extraordinary:  Heat from a ZINK-enabled printer activates the unique color-forming molecules embedded in the layers of ZINK Paper. Color emerges from the ZINK Paper creating a full-color print.

Learn how ZINK works, as demonstrated by this short video about the new ZINK hAppy Smart App Printers™:


ZINK Paper® -- Innovations in Color Chemistry

ZINK Paper® is an advanced composite material composed of multiple layers of color-forming chemistry, including our proprietary cyan, yellow, and magenta dye crystals. The multiple layers are coated as a thin "stack" onto a base layer. A polymer coating protects the layers from moisture, UV exposure, and fading. Amazingly, all the layers combined is less than the thickness of a human hair. ZINK Paper looks like regular white photo paper until heat activates the layers to create color. 

Depending on the application, several attributes of ZINK Paper, such as base thickness, level of gloss, and adhesive-backing, can be adjusted.

Zink Technology Paper Layers

ZINK® Dye Crystals – Magic Molecules

The proprietary dye crystals that give ZINK® its color, named Amorphochromic™ crystals, represent an entirely new class of molecules. Invented by ZINK Imaging scientists through a rigorous discovery process, the properties of each of the cyan, yellow, and magenta molecules are finely tuned to achieve the color palette and image stability required for full-color digital prints. ZINK crystals are clear, crystalline, and invisible to the naked eye in their pre-activated state. When heated to very high temperatures for fractions of a second, the crystals undergo a phase change, moving from colorless to an extensive palette of vivid colors. When cooled, the crystals retain their permanent color state.

The brief video on this page illustrates the heat-activated transformation of crystals from invisible to color.

A Feat of Physics

Extraordinary, yet simple, physics are behind the ZINK® printing process. Our scientists discovered a ground-breaking method to address each layer of crystals within ZINK Paper independently to yield the appropriate colors. The temperature and time patterns of the heat pulses from a ZINK-enabled device to each yellow, cyan, and magenta layer of crystals are tightly controlled, enabling the reproduction of all of the colors needed for an image.