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Feb 12, 2014
Verdigris Blog: Gadgets for Geeks & Printers
medium_laurel3.jpg The weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

A few weeks ago we got asked by a trade journalist for help with an article, so through slightly gritted teeth we did our best to help the guy meet his deadline. His article was supposed to be a list of gadgets that printers could buy to help them be more effective. There was really only one way to answer: colour management, preflight tools, new presses, computer-to-plate equipment, the list of amazing tools the graphic arts development community has to offer is endless. Gadgets indeed. If the question had been for gadgets that help reduce environmental impact, the answer would have been rather harder to answer. It set us off looking beyond the graphic arts elsewhere for environmental technologies that would benefit printers.

After much Binging and Yahooing, we came across a quite incredibly inventive company with a truly ground-breaking technology. BeFree, a UK start-up has developed an integrated power generator that exclusively uses renewables, while remaining linked to the grid. The various energy generation methods are configured into a single generation and storage system that gets over the problems of intermittence that plague wind and solar.

The BeFree Independence personal power station is small and uses solar panels, wind and geothermal linked together to provide an energy resource that is greater than the sum of its parts. And the energy can be stored in the unit’s batteries. There’s also an internal water processing unit that recycles waste water, and harvests and processes atmospheric and rain water for subsequent use.

The system can be configured and scaled according to a business or individual’s energy requirements. So for printers from gravure and high capacity web-offset down to the tiniest SME running a digital press, the Independence is a source of private energy. How much this technology costs depends on the configuration, but the utilities savings and independence from mains electricity will soon pay for themselves. BeFree’s Independence is obviously attractive for a printing company (and any other) that wants to cut energy costs and emissions. It should also be attractive to companies who want to be able to demonstrate commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility and environmental policies.

This technology is especially relevant in markets where there is lots of sun and limited water, such as Africa, India and the Middle East. It’s a technology that provides independent and standalone energy supplies and an efficient means of water processing for only the cost of the machine. The Independence is one of the most impressive new technologies we have seen, a printer’s gadget that starts paying back the moment it starts running. There aren’t many graphic arts technologies you can say that about. See for more information.

– Laurel Brunner

Verdigris supporters who make the blog possible: Agfa Graphics (, Digital Dots (, drupa (, EFI (, EcoPrint (, Fespa (, Heidelberg (, HP (, Kodak (, Pragati Offset (, Ricoh (, Unity Publishing ( and Xeikon (
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