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A guide to industrial inkjet printing

Inkjet technology has become a household word due to its presence on the consumer desktop as a low cost, reliable, relatively quick and convenient method of printing digital files. Although inkjet technology has been around since the 1950s in speciality printing, the impact of the technology in a wide range of industrial applications is just now becoming clear.

Benefits of inkjet technology

 

Inkjet technology is increasingly viewed as more than just a printing or marking technique. It can also be used to apply coatings, to deposit precise amounts of materials, and even to build micro- or macro-structures. The introduction of industrial inkjet technology into manufacturing environments has the potential to make a revolutionary step-change.

The benefits of inkjet technology are significant and include:

  • The reduction of manufacturing costs
  • Provision of higher quality output
  • Conversion of processes from analogue to digital
  • Reduction in inventory
  • Printing onto very large, very small, fragile or non-flat substrates
  • Reduction of waste
  • Mass customization
  • Faster prototyping
  • Implementation of just-in-time manufacture.

How does inkjet technology work?

Inkjet

 

In theory, inkjet technology is simple – a printhead ejects a pattern of tiny drops of ink onto a substrate without actually touching it. Dots using different coloured inks are combined together to create photo- quality images.

In practice however, successful implementation of the technology is very complex. The dots that are ejected are smaller than the diameter of a human hair (70 μm), and they need to be positioned very precisely to achieve resolutions as fine as 1440x1440 dots per inch (dpi).

This precision requires multi-disciplinary skills: a combination of careful design, implementation and operation across physics, fluid mechanics, chemistry and engineering.

Industrial inkjet printing

Industrial inkjet printing essentially means using inkjet technology as a printing or deposition process in manufacturing or on production lines - a similar principle to the inkjet printer on your desktop but very different in scale.

Industrial inkjet printing systems, and the industrial inkjet print heads they are based on, are broadly classified as either continuous (CIJ) or drop on demand (DOD), with variants within each classification.

As the name implies, continuous inkjet technology ejects drops continuously from the printhead. These drops are then either directed to the substrate as printing drops or to a collector for recirculation and re-use. While drop on demand technology ejects drops from the printhead only when required.

Bürkert’s valves for inkjet printing

Bürkert supply a number of valves and manifold systems for industrial inkjet printing, such as the Type 6011, Type 0127 and Type 6650. Read further
information on our competencies ‘Burkert valves for industrial inkjet printing’. 

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