Printers don't tend to change dramatically as manufacturers refresh their lines, unlike mobile phones for example. It's understandable. Improving the bulky, noisy, temperamental printer is no simple undertaking.

But some designers are hard at work on the next generation of printers, including models that can prepare food for you, paint your nails, or snap onto the back of your laptop.

Have a peek at how printers may change if these futuristic units attract a following.

Environmental pencil printer

The environmentally friendly Pencil Printer concept from designers Hoyoung Lee, Seunghwa Jeong and Jin-young Yoon uses black pencil lead (graphite) instead of toner, which means that users can easily correct mistakes with a rubber eraser, and can recycle paper quickly.

See it in action.

Image courtesy of Yank Design

iMo Foto Frame printer

Combining the best of both worlds, the iMo Foto Frame Printer from Mimo Monitors is an 8in digital photo frame and a standalone printer with USB and memory card slots.

The iMo Foto Frame Printer has a display resolution of 800x600 pixels, prints 6x4in glossy photos, and will set you back $200 (£132).

Images courtesy of Mimo Monitors.

NEXT PAGE: The RITI Coffee printer and the Trak portable printer

  1. These futuristic printers challenge conventional ideas
  2. The RITI Coffee printer & the Trak portable printer
  3. Epson augmented reality printer & the 3D building printer
  4. 3D pottery printer & the Barbie nail printer
  5. The inkless, paperless printer & the Cornucopia food printer
  6. The Toast printer & the Hanging printer
  7. The wireless wall-mounted printer & the Embossing braille printer
  8. Samsung circular printer


Have a peek at these 15 best futuristic printers that challenge conventional ideas - including, in some cases, basic assumptions about depending on ink, toner and paper.

RITI Coffee printer

The Coffee Printer concept from RITI turns your old coffee grounds into a source of ecologically benign printer ink.

Just put the leftover grounds in the cartridge and turn coffee stains into something more useful than unexpected abstract art shirts.

Image courtesy of Core77 Design Competition.

Trak portable printer

Reimagining mobile printing, the Trak concept from designer Hung Chih Wang places the printing process on the back of your laptop's display.

It comes with a detachable printer head and receives its power via USB.

Image courtesy of Yanko Design.

NEXT PAGE: Epson augmented reality printer and the 3D building printer

  1. These futuristic printers challenge conventional ideas
  2. The RITI Coffee printer and the Trak portable printer
  3. Epson augmented reality printer and the 3D building printer
  4. 3D pottery printer and the Barbie nail printer
  5. The inkless, paperless printer and the Cornucopia food printer
  6. The Toast printer and the Hanging printer
  7. The wireless wall-mounted printer and the Embossing braille printer
  8. Samsung circular printer


Have a peek at these 15 best futuristic printers that challenge conventional ideas - including, in some cases, basic assumptions about depending on ink, toner and paper.

Epson augmented reality printer

Priced at around $600 (£395), Epson's Colorio printers (the site is written in Japanese) allow you to print a colour postcard with your face superimposed on it.

But the real magic starts when you hold it up to a webcam, and the card comes to life as various characters pop out of it on-screen.

So far, this technology has only been implemented in Japan - but just imagine Santa coming to life in your Christmas cards.

See it in action (also in Japanese).

Image courtesy of Epson (also in Japanese).

The 3D building printer

Since it isn't confined to a box, the amazing 3D printer from engineer Enrico Dini could theoretically print a house or any other structure.

The printer uses magnesium dust to translate CAD drawings into 3D layerings.

Still years away from mass production, this device suggests that the idea of printing your own products at home may not be so far-fetched after all.

Image courtesy of Blueprint Magazine.

NEXT PAGE: 3D pottery printer and the Barbie nail printer

  1. These futuristic printers challenge conventional ideas
  2. The RITI Coffee printer and the Trak portable printer
  3. Epson augmented reality printer and the 3D building printer
  4. 3D pottery printer and the Barbie nail printer
  5. The inkless, paperless printer and the Cornucopia food printer
  6. The Toast printer and the Hanging printer
  7. The wireless wall-mounted printer and the Embossing braille printer
  8. Samsung circular printer


Have a peek at these 15 best futuristic printers that challenge conventional ideas - including, in some cases, basic assumptions about depending on ink, toner and paper.

3D pottery printer

This ceramic 3D printer project from Unfold prints - or rather, extrudes - wet clay from its nozzle in sophisticated shapes that are ready for firing.

The raw materials involved are simple: powder clay mixed with water. The shaping is done via a syringe.

The Belgian designers of this machine successfully used it to create a double-walled vessel and various ceramic shapes.
Image courtesy of Unfold.

Barbie nail printer

Instead of painting your own fingernails, you can turn the technical operation over to the Barbie Doll'd Up Nails digital nail printer from Mattel.

This very special printer (which vaguely resembles a first-generation iMac laid on its back) lets you create and customise all sorts of designs from home.

It takes a few seconds to print one nail and you can upload any custom design you like from a computer.

See it in action.

Image courtesy of Mattel.

NEXT PAGE: The inkless, paperless printer and the Cornucopia food printer

  1. These futuristic printers challenge conventional ideas
  2. The RITI Coffee printer and the Trak portable printer
  3. Epson augmented reality printer and the 3D building printer
  4. 3D pottery printer and the Barbie nail printer
  5. The inkless, paperless printer and the Cornucopia food printer
  6. The Toast printer and the Hanging printer
  7. The wireless wall-mounted printer and the Embossing braille printer
  8. Samsung circular printer


Have a peek at these 15 best futuristic printers that challenge conventional ideas - including, in some cases, basic assumptions about depending on ink, toner and paper.

Inkless, paperless printer

For $5,600 (£3,695) you can also print without using toner, ink, or paper.

The Sanwa Newtec PrePeat RP-3100II works with paper made out of PET plastic - which is reusable up to 1000 times - plus a thermal printing head.

A single sheet of the plastic costs $3.35 (£2.21).

See it in action.

Image courtesy of Gizmodo.

Cornucopia food printer

You might not be the best cook, but soon you will be able to print your own food.

The Cornucopia Food Printer concept from MIT's Marcelo Coelho and Amit Zoran is essentially a 3D food printer that works by storing and mixing ingredients.

You supply your favourite ingredients, which the printer then pipes into a mixer, heats, and serves.

Image courtesy of MIT.

NEXT PAGE: The Toast printer and the Hanging printer

  1. These futuristic printers challenge conventional ideas
  2. The RITI Coffee printer and the Trak portable printer
  3. Epson augmented reality printer and the 3D building printer
  4. 3D pottery printer and the Barbie nail printer
  5. The inkless, paperless printer and the Cornucopia food printer
  6. The Toast printer and the Hanging printer
  7. The wireless wall-mounted printer and the Embossing braille printer
  8. Samsung circular printer


Have a peek at these 15 best futuristic printers that challenge conventional ideas - including, in some cases, basic assumptions about depending on ink, toner and paper.

Toast printer

It's less a printer than a printerlike toaster (site is written in German), but this concept from Othmar Mühlebach uses bread in place of paper and produces toast instead of a document.

Now, wouldn't it be cool if it had butter and jam cartridges? And if it were self-cleaning?

Image courtesy of Othmar Mühlebach.

Hanging printer

The Hanging Printer concept from designers Jin Hee Kim, Hyung Il Kim, and Woo Seok Park aims to save space on your desk with an ingeniously small footprint, as only the print head and paper feed sit on the desk's surface.

The Hanging Printer comes with an embedded LCD that indicates printing status.

Image courtesy of Yanko Design.

NEXT PAGE: The Wireless wall-mounted printer and the Embossing braille printer

  1. These futuristic printers challenge conventional ideas
  2. The RITI Coffee printer and the Trak portable printer
  3. Epson augmented reality printer and the 3D building printer
  4. 3D pottery printer and the Barbie nail printer
  5. The inkless, paperless printer and the Cornucopia food printer
  6. The Toast printer and the Hanging printer
  7. The wireless wall-mounted printer and the Embossing braille printer
  8. Samsung circular printer


Have a peek at these 15 best futuristic printers that challenge conventional ideas - including, in some cases, basic assumptions about depending on ink, toner and paper.

Wireless wall-mounted printer

The wall-mounted wireless printer concept from Ransmeier & Floyd defies expectations about a printer's appropriate size and shape.

This battery-powered printer can be mounted on a wall or used with a kickstand on a desktop, and it displays printouts as if they were pictures in a frame.

Removing printed pages from the special pocket looks to be something of a chore, however.

Image courtesy of They Should Do That.

Embossing braille printer

The Embossing Braille Printer concept from designer Danni Luo is intended to help visually impaired people distinguish objects of similar shape with life-saving implications, such as medication bottles.

To print a label, you speak into the wider end of the printer, and the corresponding embossed label will come out of the side.

Image courtesy of Core77.

NEXT PAGE: Samsung circular printer

  1. These futuristic printers challenge conventional ideas
  2. The RITI Coffee printer and the Trak portable printer
  3. Epson augmented reality printer and the 3D building printer
  4. 3D pottery printer and the Barbie nail printer
  5. The inkless, paperless printer and the Cornucopia food printer
  6. The Toast printer and the Hanging printer
  7. The wireless wall-mounted printer and the Embossing braille printer
  8. Samsung circular printer


Have a peek at these 15 best futuristic printers that challenge conventional ideas - including, in some cases, basic assumptions about depending on ink, toner and paper.

Samsung circular printer

The Circular Printer concept from Samsung is extremely small and doesn't look like any other printer we've seen.
Instead moving linearly, this printer uses rotational motion to print one page at a time.

Unfortunately, Samsung has never taken the Circular Printer to production.

Image courtesy of Samsung Electronics.

See also: Top ten printer downloads

  1. These futuristic printers challenge conventional ideas
  2. The RITI Coffee printer and the Trak portable printer
  3. Epson augmented reality printer and the 3D building printer
  4. 3D pottery printer and the Barbie nail printer
  5. The inkless, paperless printer and the Cornucopia food printer
  6. The Toast printer and the Hanging printer
  7. The wireless wall-mounted printer and the Embossing braille printer
  8. Samsung circular printer