Determination of key parameters in inkjet systems using drop watching and print quality analysis

Experience has shown that success in inkjet printing requires mastery of many fields; from ink chemistry to mechanical and software engineering. It is important for new inkjet developers to understand the scope of the complex system that is inkjet printing as they are assessing its viability for their application. Although the general requirements of an inkjet printing application can be determined relatively easily, it is often much more difficult to determine the steps involved in meeting each of those requirements. Understanding the entire scope of a project, from generalities down to the details, is essential for making wise decisions about whether to pursue it, and the development steps to be undertaken.

As an example of this, in our presentation at the IMI Europe Inkjet Ink Development Conference we will expand upon a single detail in the complex inkjet system: the correct distance of the printhead from the substrate (also known as the throw distance). It is tempting in practice to maximize this distance, as it means less risk of printhead damage and simpler system design, but the tradeoff is with image quality due to misdirected jets. Although the throw distance seems like one of the more trivial considerations in an inkjet printer, even this parameter has many steps of experimentation before the correct distance can be determined.

 The JetXpert drop watching system

The JetXpert drop watching system

As the presentation will show, a surprising amount of time and detail is required to determine the proper printhead height. If this amount of work is multiplied across all aspects of an inkjet system, then it may appear overwhelming to pursue an inkjet development at all. Fortunately, systems exist that are designed to simplify and accelerate many of the required development processes. Our presentation will walk you through the major considerations in determining the proper printhead height, and reveal how this process can completed efficiently using ImageXpert systems, such as the JetXpert dropwatcher for drop-in-flight analysis, the JetXpert Print Station for sample printing, and ImageXpert inspection solutions for print quality analysis. By using a drop analysis system, typical jet devation can be determined for a particular ink and drive combination. Print quality analysis can then be used to understand the consequences of this for misalignment of printed features. Based on the required quality for the application, the correct printhead height can then be determined.

Kyle Pucci
Applications Engineer
ImageXpert Inc