What is Zink paper?

hero-polaroid-pop (Image credit: Polaroid)

What is Zink paper?

Zink lets you print full-color photos without using ink cartridges

The name for Zink technology comes from "zero ink," as the technology lets you print in color without ink. Instead, Zink uses a type of multi-layered thermal paper, so photos can be printed in only one pass.

Zink paper features a number of heat-sensitive color layers in cyan, magenta, and yellow. A photo is printed using a series of heat pulses of varying lengths and intensities. Each layer also contains colorless crystals of various dyes, which form micro-crystals that convert to their proper colorful form by melting, but which retain their proper color after resolidifying.

Zink paper all comes from one company

Zink paper, along with the underlying technology behind it, is developed by Zink Holdings. Zink is the sole manufacturer of the paper, while the company licenses out its technology to companies like Polaroid, Canon, and Lifeprint, who use it to create compact printers and instant cameras that use Zink paper. These companies also sell branded Zink paper for their products.

Most Zink paper comes in formats like 2 by 3 inches or 3 by 4 inches. However, there is a special variety of Zink paper that Polaroid uses for its Pop camera. This paper measures 3.5 by 4.25 inches and allows the photos printed by the Pop to have the look of classic Polaroid photos, with an image surrounded by a white border and large white chin.

Joseph Keller

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.