Explaining what are the differences with the inkjet heads in the market today
What are Piezo, Thermal and Valvejet technologies
Last I was at an
industry tradeshow, lots of new stuff and great to meet industry leaders and
fellow industry members. At night while sitting at the hotel bar, I overheard a
hefty conversation about inkjet head technology. Yes, inkjet head technology is still a big
discussion at tradeshows, specially at the hotel bar for some reason.
The first guy was
arguing that his company XYZ was making the fastest head and largest output on
the market, the one sitting next to him was agreeing, it was fast but his
company ABC had a print head that was wider and therefore could print more in
the same time, making it much better.
Last of the three guys
was from FGH and his company was proud to be the one with a replaceable head,
so no service issues and fast changing. He also mentioned that with his
technology he could keep on adding heads if needed. ABC asked why add heads if
you have a big one that you could stitch together in one long seem-less
This would be compact
and fast. Well, FGH mentioned, you don’t need to have a complicated large long head, especially if you
needed to replace it. He continues explaining about the headache you would have
replacing one head. With his technology
you just would replace what was broken and you’re up and running in no
XYZ continued that
with the technology his company, you would only need to replace heads after 2-3
years. So where is the problem.
Finally they all
agreed to disagree on this topic and ordered more beer.
As the beer arrived
they continued with print head drop size, where one head was able to print with
2 pico-litre the next one was proud to say that 11-12 picolitre was a lot better
as density and coverage was so important. One commented that if you want ink on
the substrate then the valve jet was your solution, with up to 260 pico-litres
and a resolution of 35dpi it could print on anything as long as you looked at
it from a kilometer away. They all busted into laughter.
With still beer in the glasses, the discussion
continued, but now about the differences between piezo, thermal and valve jet
technologies, as all of these are inkjet printheads the discussion became hard
and less friendly. The XYZ company man told everybody that it did not matter as
piezo as the most common technology and that most of the heads are piezo heads.
FGH started to laugh,
his company has made more thermal inkjet heads than anybody in the world, so no
piezo is not the only technology. The rambled on about the technologies and
what was better and why…
Termal Inkjet head
Piezo Inkjet head
ValveJet Inkjet head
So how about the size
of the heads for this flatbed table. Big heads like from ABC could make the
carriage weight very high and would make the printer slow and bulky.
that the print would be very heavy to carry all this weight. It would be able
to print really fast. In my opinion the
best solution would be a print head that is fast, relatively small (I can use multiple
heads so more colors or more speed) and piezo based if you are designing a
flatbed UV printer. I decided to leave the
gents in there evening discussion and started to relativize there
statements. Was size, speed, technology
and drop size worth the discussion. No, the core is what are you going to use
the technology for. The word here is “application”.
Let me go deeper into
this, let’s take a UV-ink based flatbed printer.
Here the size of the droplet is important if
you want to have a sharp small text (say 2 points), at the same time you would
like to have the possibility of a variable drop size.
This gives us a better
coverage and a more uniform image buildup. Specially if you have large one
color high density blocks on the print. Think of logos and other vector data.
As thermal technology
is not recognized today as the multi drop technology is still can produce very
well with water based resign based inks but it would not be the best solution
for UV inks and the UV curing lamps.
Again the word is
applications, this is why all manufactures make printers for specific markets
and trends. Textile printers are mostly
piezo based, why because of the accuracy, speed and drop size. CAD printers are
mostly thermal (bubble-jet) inkjet based, why because of the relative low cost
easy install and water based dye or pigment inks and yes flatbed UV inkjet
printers are mostly equipped with a piezo head technology.
So if you are looking
for a new printer don’t jump on the technology train, think what will I be
producing, what is my need and how much do I need to print. Putting all these things in order, you might
opt for the most expensive device because the ROI would be better than the
Take your application to the next level by comparing the quality of
the output on your application not the head type. There is a right printer out
there for your needs.
Just a word of caution
technology is changing
so fast that this blog
could be obsolete before you even read it. I just wanted to give you a heads-up
on what the market has to offer to your business and how you can benefit from
one evening of discussions on a trade show.
ZEMT Consultancy and
All brands names are
fictitious and no reference is made to any specific brand