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Liquid Ink Piezo Printers

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06/02/2022

If we consider the main advantages of inkjet printers, then there is a relatively low cost of printing, that is, the cost of operating the printer itself, as well as the quite affordable cost of the materials obtained. Of course, inkjet printers have their drawbacks, but in general they can be quite competently leveled.

Inkjet printers have their own classification:

  • thermal with liquid ink;
  • thermal solid ink;
  • piezo with liquid ink.

The most popular are some models from well-known brands. In particular, we are talking about Hewlett Packard Desk Jet, Epson Stylus, Canon Bubble Jet, Lexmark Color Jet. Thus, we are talking about model lines that belong to popular manufacturers of household and computer equipment.

Let’s take a closer look at how piezoelectric printers work. The basis of printing here is a piezoelectric plate, which is also called a piezoelectric element. An electric current is applied to this plate, which bends the plate itself and thereby pushes a portion of ink out of the nozzle. A feature here is the minimum duration of the pulse generated by the current, which is much shorter than the pulses in inkjet printers with thermal elements. Thus, the piezoelectric version prints faster than thermal head printers. However, the cost of piezoelectric equipment is higher compared to thermal head printers.

Very advantageous in this context is the Epson Stylus range, where there is only equipment with piezoelectric printing technology. The print quality of these printers is quite high, and branded consumables are only a plastic ink bottle, which helps to reduce everyday costs. In addition, it is possible to use analogues of cartridges, but here you need to take into account that you will need exactly analogues, but not fakes. It is better to specify the details about a particular manufacturer.

In order to change the cartridge, you also need to have the appropriate experience and understand this process, because if you leave the piezoelectric element without a cartridge for a long time on Epson equipment, then the ink dries up here significantly, which harms the equipment. If you need to clean the piezoelectric element, then our printers have a special option for this, which is in many ways much more efficient and does not harm, unlike many recommendations for washing this part that you can see on the Internet.

If you are not going to use the printer for a long time, you need to use a special option that prevents the ink from drying out. In general, the printer automatically transfers the piezoelectric element to the desired placement option after printing stops, and then you can turn off the printer. By the way, in order to spend less ink on cleaning, it is more expedient to use non-original Epson inks, which are ultra-quick drying. But analogues do not dry out so quickly, which allows you to install the piezoelectric element in the right way and at the same time not have significant difficulties with dried ink.

In conclusion, piezo inkjet printers are not the best option for offices. For the most part, they are good for home use as long as you follow all the guidelines. In this version, the equipment works great for years and does not require significant costs, since, as mentioned earlier, the ink is quite affordable, and the requirements for the paper used are also not very demanding.

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Continuous Inkjet Printers

Coding and marking is essential in every industry, no matter what product is being produced.

Continuous ink jet (CIJ) printers offer a number of advantages over other coding technologies in applications such as food and beverage, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, automotive and construction industries.

Continuous inkjet technology, ideal for marking flat or curved surfaces.

Continuous inkjet printers produce ink for printing directly onto material, packaging or the product itself. This is a non-contact method that allows you to print on any type of surface without smearing, defects or damage to the substrate itself.

The compact head size and the ability to print in any direction make it easy to install in a wide range of applications, including assembly lines.

The working principle of continuous inkjet printers is as follows:

In this method, ink particles are continuously ejected from the nozzle. They are electrostatically charged. Electrodes are used to deflect ink particles so that they are sprayed onto the printed surface.

Ink particles that are not deflected are collected, returned to the ink tank and reused. Even when not printing, ink is constantly being used up, which is why they are called continuous printers.

This equipment is capable of printing on a wide variety of materials: plastics, films, metals, resins and glasses, as well as on paper and cardboard, which do not absorb ink well.

One of the biggest advantages is the wide range of available inks that allow you to work with different packaging materials.

With so many applications and substrates to choose from, you need to answer a few questions to narrow your options: What industry are you in? What happens to the product before, during and after printing? What color is the underlay?

Different industries may have unique requirements. For example, food and beverage manufacturers pay particular attention to the possibility of indirect or direct contact with food and packaging (e.g. eggshell – direct contact, bread bag – indirect).

At the same time, in the automotive industry, the requirements for product-specific adhesion and paint contrast are paramount.

General purpose inks can be used for coding on cellulose dry packs. When printing on cans for beverages that are filled in cool conditions and where condensation may occur, the ink must penetrate the moisture and adhere to the aluminum.

It is necessary to understand the packaging process itself: retort, sterilization, autoclaving. For example, thermochromic inks are ideal for preprinting bags or cans. The code is printed in one color and after a successful retort changes to another (for example, from black to red), adding a built-in process and quality control mechanism.

If the substrate is transparent or light in color, the choice is easy. The black version of the colors is used here. However, there are many different packaging colors, such as dark pastry wrap or amber vitamin bottles, that standard black won’t provide the right level of contrast. In such cases, colored inks are used, which are yellow, red, orange, green, gray or blue.

Sometimes the code is not intended to be seen, for example, to protect the brand from counterfeits. In such cases, CIJ printers use transparent inks that are not visible without a source of ultraviolet light at a specific wavelength.

One of the important issues when choosing the right ink is adhesion to the right substrate. There are two main factors that affect print durability and quality: surface roughness and foreign matter.

The difference between non-porous and porous packaging is their ability to hold ink. Some substrates, such as foil, medical tubing, and blister packs, are non-porous and may be more susceptible to smearing. Some porous materials may be coated with resin, varnish, or wax, which can also make them difficult to print.

Some surfaces may become contaminated with dust, dirt, grease, water or process oils during processing. While some operations take this into account and wash the substrate before printing, others do not and must be considered when determining the appropriate marking inks. CIJ printers use inks specifically designed to work with water, process fluids, and other solids.

CIJ ink consists of five main components: a solvent, polymers that give the characteristics of the ink, additives, dyes, and a conductive salt that charges and ensures proper deflection of the ink droplets.

The main difference is the presence or absence of MEK (methyl ethyl ketone) solvent. This additive greatly affects the final adhesion and the ability to use the printer with certain substrates.

MEK’s high evaporation rate means that its ink dries very quickly and can be easily integrated into any high speed conveyor line. However, they are also associated with increased emission of volatile organic compounds. These are gases released during printing that can affect indoor air quality, cause bad odors, and have a negative impact on the environment.

MEK-free ink generally emits less pollutants and improves efficiency by reducing overall fluid consumption. Additional benefits of such inks may include improved usability and air quality on production lines, have a very low odor.

There is no one type of ink that works in every application. Acetone-based inks can dry faster than MEK-based inks, which in turn have a wider range of materials to work with.

Pigmented dyes provide better lightfastness and opacity, but do not dissolve uniformly in solvents and require occasional mixing.

So let’s recap.

Speed, ease of integration and reliability are the main reasons manufacturers choose continuous inkjet printers.

This is a versatile ink-based coding technology. The non-contact method is optimal because some packages can be easily damaged by pressure.