German enterprise printing specialist ThinPrint is touting the green and security benefits of its new "follow-me" printing system.

With traditional printing methods, a high proportion of printouts end up in the bin, because users often do not retrieve them all. ThinPrint says this is a waste of money and valuable resources. In some cases, it can even pose a security risk if forgotten printouts – for example of employee contracts – contain sensitive information. This could fall into unauthorised hands at the printer.

But ThinPrint, to be previewed at the CeBIT show, does things differently. When users launch print jobs, they don't select a specific printer. Instead they select the available "follow-me-printing printer." They can then go to any machine and start the printout after completing an authentication routine.

The ThinPrint system is mostly software-based, although it needs some hardware options for authentication. This is in contrast to the exclusively hardware-based rival that Epson announced earlier this month, and that uses a printer requiring a smartcard to start.

The ThinPrint follow-me printing system allows for three types of authentication. Firstly, from a multifunction printer, a user can request their print job by user data input. Secondly, the user can make use of a smartcard, like the Epson offering. Or thirdly, and perhaps almost uniquely, they can use their mobile phone.

The user will see their print job on their mobile-phone display, and can select or manage the job with the keypad. The company says this option requires no additional hardware, although it is currently keeping quiet on how this is achieved.

It did say however that its printing software portfolio can enhance the print process through print data compression, simplified administration, connection-oriented bandwidth control, print-job tracking and SSL-encrypted transmission of print data.

ThinPrint also revealed that printers with displays, as well as a thin client or a print box with a smartcard reader are also being considered as input devices. It is apparently is co-operating with long-term OEM partners, including Ricoh and Oki, to implement these options.

"It (the follow-me-printing software) reduces administration effort and also excellently fits into our Green IT strategy for the responsible handling of resources," said Charlotte Künzell, ThinPrint general manager. "Our printer virtualisation solutions not only save a company hardware; the new follow-me-printing also allows them to concretely reduce their paper and toner usage."