Junrui Yang, Jiang Chen
Mini-printer is a compact full functional printer with the size that can fit in human hands. It can print flexible size document on many kinds of material. The idea is to cancel the paper feeding system in regular printer and replace it with two mouse navgation sensor.
Printing, albeit its long history, still occupy a very large proportion of means how digital world can affect physical world. However, the size of conventional printer and the fact that it can only print on size-limited flat paper severely limits its usage. Mini-printer proposed an innovative solution to this problem.
Conventional printer use a paper-feeding system to control the paper movement to print patterns on the paper. This system limit the media printer can use and occupy most of its size. Previously, without the support of high resolution sensor and high speed controller, this is the only way to ensure high quality printout. Instead, mini-printer take advantage on advancement in surface tracking technology and constantly scaling of micro-controller computing power, and replace the paper feeding system with a pair of optical navigation sensor widely use in laser mouse and a fast micro-controller.
Mini-printer allow user to move the machine over the printing surface. The micro-controller utilize those sensors to calculate the real time location of the machine relative to printing medium. Therefore, once the user move the printer head across the whole printing area, the process is completed easily.
Benefited from this technology, mini-printer can print document in arbitrary size on various kind of surface in a form factor of 10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm. This allows people to do many task they were not able to accomplish before, for example, people can print patten on their clothes or mark their own belongings, businesses can also use the same technology to easily send out advertisement by print on different objects.
In the future, I believe, mint-printer can be replace handwriting. With the comparable flexibilities and mobility and outstanding accuracy and convenience, mini-printer can free our hands from the tiresome handwriting process. (A common childhood dream of Chinese children, because of the difficulty we encounter during learning Chinese characters.)
I have a granted patent for this project in China. Here is the English translation in Google Patent (poorly translated).