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Invisible? Stealth Printing Technology

Stealth Printing (IR Printing) Technology is used for producing certificates, confidential documents, and for preventing the printing of counterfeit bills. Though not visible under natural light, this specialised printing technology allows materials to be printed which can only be seen under an Infra-Red (IR) reader.
RICOH has developed a compact printer and toner capable of printing using Stealth Printing Technology, making it easier than ever before to print IR materials.
By using this printer in a variety of situations, we expect that new value can be brought to this technology.

62 design
Nov 25,2019 Deadline
  • 募集開始 Sep 11,2019
  • 募集終了 Nov 25,2019
  • 結果発表 Feb 14,2020

What is IR Printing?

Infra-Red (IR) printing is a printing technology which uses a special toner which is only visible under infra-red light. Infra-red light has a longer wavelength than visible light and thus, it is invisible to the naked human eye.

 The [IR Printer] which uses the [IR Toner] with can of course be used on white paper but, the technology can be used to IR print on top of photographs and illustrations. Text and graphics printed using the IR toner can only be read using a dedicated [IR Reader]. This makes the technology more secure than UV invisible ink which can be read by shining UV light. Due to its high security, IR printing is used for authenticating banknotes and certificates issued by government agencies.

However, up until now dedicated large scale IR printers were required to make use of this [IR Printing Technology], and so it couldn’t be used for general business purposes.


To solve this problem, RICOH’s R&D department created a compact [IR Printer] and [IR Clear Toner] to go with it, making this technology much more accessible than ever before.

[IR Clear Toner & IR Printer] – RICOH’s solution to making IR printing accessible to everyone

Up until now, using IR printing technology required purchasing a large scale, dedicated printer. These were a big upfront financial investment, making it difficult to use this technology in ordinary business scenarios.


However, RICOH has developed the all-new [IR Clear Toner & IR Printer]. In the form of a Compact Printer which uses their specialised IR Clear Toner, it allows simultaneous IR + Colour Printing making IR printing easily accessible.    

The special properties of Stealth Printing – Invisible to the naked eye but scannable by reader

Scannable codes visible to the human eye such as QR codes can be easily photographed and replicated, making them insecure. On the other hand, materials printed using IR printing technology can only be read using a dedicated IR reader, securing such codes from photo replication.


Another key characteristic of this technology is that information (such as QR codes and text) can be printed directly on top of pictures and text, for an additional layer of invisible security.    

Easy Operation, Low Cost

For example, the procurement and installation of equipment for security systems which use IC chip contactless cards are relatively expensive. In addition, after installation, there are many instances where specialised maintenance staff are required. In contrast to this, all you need to make use of IR Printing Technology is a compact IR colour printer, making it easy to use and manage, whilst reducing initial and operating costs.

Ideas for Uses

We expect the [IR Clear Toner & IR Printer] to be used in a variety of ways. Here are some expected uses for this technology.



For instant keys at hotels etc.

Admission cards

Quality assurance tags for products and brands

We are currently accepting applications for business designs which make use of this technology! Be sure think about ‘what sort of customer’, ‘what needs’, and ‘how to meet those needs’ and considering your business design (e.g. ideas for uses, business models etc.).

※If you are having difficulty coming up with a business idea, we are also happy to accept product concepts and designs too.

※Though we gave QR codes as an example, all kinds of other graphics, codes and text can be printed. We are looking forward to seeing what ideas you come up with.

The product specifications for the IR Printer are detailed below.

*1) Compatible Paper

<Paper Feed Tray>

Maximum Size A4 portrait feed(W)64 - 216 mm / (L)148 - 356mm

Paper weight: 56 – 163 gsm

<Bypass tray>

Maximum Size A4 portrait feed(W)64 - 216 mm / (L)127 - 1,260mm

Paper weight: 56 – 163 gsm

*2) Predicted Printer Unit Specifications

External Dimensions(W)400 x (D)515 x (H)387 mm

WeightApprox. 33kg (main unit including toner cartridges)

Compatible OS: Windows®︎10


The RICOH R&D department has determined the following points as examples of things which are infeasible/difficult.

IR printing QR codes directly onto bags and clothing to determine authenticity of branded products.

 The IR printer is only capable of printing onto paper. It cannot print directly onto other materials such as leather or cloth.

Using a smartphone QR code reader to read codes which are stealth printed onto large billboards and posters.

Smartphone cameras are unable to read IR printed materials, a dedicated IR reader is required to read such materials.   

・Ideas which are centred around the sales of goods printed using the IR printers. In other words, treating the printers as a printing company.

→ RICOH would like to receive ideas which will help sell their IR printers and IR toners. Unless your idea makes highly lucrative products out of using these printers as a printing company, we would like to ask you to refrain from submitting such ideas. 

About posting proposals

・The process up to product commercialisation

Deadline for submission of business design (ideas for uses, business models etc.) is Mon 25th November 2019.

・An information session has been scheduled!

An information session has been scheduled to take place at 19:00 Thu 26th September in the Shibuya area. The session will be given by researchers from RICOH and they will give details on their IR printing technology. Please come along and ask lots of questions.

Click here to register for the information session (link to external site)

If you have any questions, please feel free to write them down in the comments section.

We are looking forward to your participation!


  • Total prize money of 500,000 yen
  • Reward of 20,000 yen if the concept used as part of a commercialisation project (optional)


  • Several concepts can be adopted. In this case, the prize money of 500,000 yen will be split accordingly.
  • After adoption, you may be asked to participate in a subsequent commercialisation project (optional). In this event, you will be awarded a further 200,000 yen.
  • Adoption of your concept does not guarantee that it will be commercialised.
  • RICOH and TRINUS have yet to decide if this competition will lead to product commercialisation taking place (they have yet to sign such a contract).


How to Apply
  • Post your concepts as images (JPG, PNG, GIF etc.) on our website.
  • Submissions can be in the form of a descriptive proposal, product plan, illustration, graphic image, photo of a trial product or a combination of the above (maximum 6 files).
How the Concepts will be Evaluated
  • The concept must demonstrate high demand on the [Want it!] page, receiving support from many users.
  • The concept must receive a lot of support from buyers on our company network.
  • The product concept must follow the application guidelines and be feasible to manufacture
  • The product concept must not be too complicated such that it can be manufactured and sold at a reasonable price.

Please also see Terms of Use for additional notes


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