Sustainable Instant Photo Printing


The advent of high-quality cameras in smartphones, tablets and digital cameras is slowly burying the traditional photo printing industry. About 4.7 billion photos are clicked every day: 92.5% of which with smartphones.

However, recent surveys have indicated that there is a shift in the way consumers are handling photos. The trend of Instant print cameras is on the rise among the age group of 25-54. The market was valued at $1.5 bn in 2020 with an estimated CAGR of 7.9% until 2027.

Fotostax, an instant photo printing startup, based out of the UK, has identified a gap in this industry. They want to further level up instant printing with their instant print phone case that can print moving images. In this article, Jonathan McBride, Founder and CEO of Fotostax, explains the transformation of instant printing industry with their unique product.

Capturing live moments in real time

“I was attending a wedding where I saw some people going around with their instant cameras, capturing special moments from the day such as kids running around, the first dance and candid conversations. This got me thinking- did the camera really capture the moment? It captured a still moment but not exactly the moment. I set out to create a product that replicated live photos on a physical base,” began Jonathan.

Fotostax’s flagship product, the fotostax Motion️, is the first modular phone-case printer that can print high-quality moving, 3D, flip and static photos with only basic knowledge of smartphone use. The case combines a lenticular lens (array of lenses that show different parts of image when viewed at different viewing angles) and dye-sublimation technology (transferring ink to the intended base using heat).

Long-lasting, circular product

“Consumer electronics are designed and built with planned obsolescence in mind. This is a tactic used by companies to compel consumers to buy more, subsequently adding on to their profits. This is incredibly unsustainable as it contributes to e-waste and is incredibly disrespectful to the users. Our print case tackles this issue by prolonging the life of the printer from 5 hours of print time to 100 hours (20x increase),” explained Jonathan.

Jonathan and his team are building their flagship product to be more modular by making it easier to upgrade and repair, rather than discarding the device. The case itself would be manufactured using recycled material-PLA, recycled thermoplastic material for the lenticular lens and recycled paper for the printing paper. Additionally, they are also implementing a takeback system in the business model and offering a discount to customers who return their used cartridges. “No major printing companies use recycled material for printer externals, internals and consumables. We estimate an 80% reduction in carbon footprint by increasing the product life and recycled content,” clarified Jonathan.

High potential market

“Our focus is on the instant-print market at the moment where we operate in the B2C ecosystem. We will proceed to scaleup into a B2B ecosystem by entering the digital print market for applications at home, events and photobooths,” continued Jonathan.

At the moment, the largest market share belongs to big players like Fujifilm, Polaroid, Canon and Kodak. Despite the high demand, there is little innovation in the segment of instant phone printers. Their flagship product will soon go live on the Kickstarter website and already has over 100 pre signups.