Invested in Inkjet
When we take a look at the various printing technologies available today, inkjet printers continue to generate the most enthusiasm among industry professionals and it is not difficult to see why. Inkjet technology has made significant strides in the past decade and has become synonymous with increased reliability, faster turnaround times, reduced downtime and maintenance costs and, in more recent years, print personalisation and customisation.
But while most print service providers (PSPs) and print buyers tend to focus more on the outcomes of using inkjet systems – and understandably so – it is also worth taking a moment to stop and appreciate the science behind inkjet, as well as the latest developments that continue to make this technology so popular within the wider print community.
Getting your head around printheads
The engineering reliability of inkjet has improved no end, especially where printhead technology is concerned. While the introduction of white ink may have opened up new opportunities for PSPs looking to extend their colour printing capabilities, it has presented some challenges from an ink circulation standpoint.
One of the key issues surrounding white ink is that the pigment is much heavier and tends to settle in the formulation, which can lead to problematic issues with nozzle blocking. As a result, there has been a lot of investment in fine-tuning the internal architecture of inkjet heads, with a view to improve print reliability. This has led technology innovators to come up with inventive ways in which the ink can be recirculated within the head itself, so that the fluid is constantly kept active and issues with sedimentation in corners of the head are avoided altogether.
It is thanks to developments in engineering such as these that we are now in a place where inkjet has become far more reliable. But the innovations in printhead technology do not stop there: add improved droplet control and jetting to the mix and it becomes clear that we’re getting to a stage where throw distance can be improved to greater degrees, which means that printheads can be pulled back further from the substrate, enabling us to print on rougher, more uneven surfaces without issues of head strikes.
Don’t pass over single-pass
Another area of innovation showing disruptive potential is single-pass inkjet, especially when it comes to speed. With average speeds of approximately 75 metres per minute, compared with industrial multi-pass at around 7.5 metres per minute, single-pass represents an alluring proposition when it comes to turnaround times. It’s this level of productivity that can lead single pass to be viewed as a competitive technology to analogue printing techniques used in industrial processes.
What’s more, while multi-pass inkjet has established itself particularly well in the wide format sector, single-pass is gradually penetrating specific areas where high volume print runs are the norm and, more crucially, where it’s looking at competing with offset. These include specific décor applications such as flooring and ceramic tiles, or mass customised box making, which is an area of growth within commercial packaging.
While at this stage single-pass inkjet only really affects a limited number of markets due to the cost of investment being so significant, it is interesting nonetheless for PSPs to understand where this technology is being used and whether it might pose a challenge to their business. After all, FESPA has been introducing disruptive imaging technologies to its wide print community for years, so whether you happen to be a large scale POS producer or an independent packaging company, then it is likely that you will be interested in the possibilities that single-pass has to offer further down the line.
Find out more at FESPA Global Print Expo 2019
What we’re witnessing is better science at play and an event like FESPA Global Print Expo 2019 offers an opportunity to see first-hand how the latest trends and technologies are impacting the worldwide print industry. To find out more about the latest developments and to hear from industry experts, visitors should check out the Trend Theatre programme (hall B5, stand F95), which has been put together with the needs and interests of the FESPA global speciality print community in mind and will deliver key insights on a host of topics. The sessions with a special focus on inkjet will include The Wide Format Supplies Market: Are You Making Good & Bad Ink Choice Decisions? (4.30pm, 15 May) and What’s Next in Inkjet: Technologies and Markets? (12.30pm, 17 May).
To register, please click here. Use code FESM919 for free entry.