The first consideration when building an industrial print system is and always will be the printhead and fluid compatibility, but once this has been confirmed, how to get enough fluid to the printhead at the right temperature and viscosity is as an important development step that is often underestimated. The stability of the ink delivery system is crucial for print performance, and whether using printing inks or functional fluids, pressure, temperature and viscosity all need to be monitored and controlled. The best ink delivery systems are the ones designed for your application, and it is more than a case of just installing pumps and tanks and expecting this to meet the requirements.
In-house development can work but only allows you to learn from what you have already done. GIS has been working closely for over five years with machine builders in developing systems for a vast array of different applications, so by outsourcing your ink or fluid delivery system development, you can benefit from a much wider knowledge base.
Inkjet printing today is no longer just confined to graphics printing. There has been an increase in the use of inkjet for the application of coatings, the creation of textures and other finishes, which means that the types of fluids being used are as varied as the applications being printed.
One area that has presented some of the biggest challenges has been in high-fluid volume printing such as for coatings, or printing textures on labels or wood substitutes. Getting these high volumes of fluid to the printhead can put real strain on the ink delivery system and maintaining the control of temperature and viscosity also add to the complications.
GIS has worked closely with both machine builders and printhead suppliers to specify and build ink / fluid delivery systems that can cope with these high-volume demands. The Xaar 1003 is a good example of a printhead offering large dispense volumes, as in its high laydown mode, it can dispense over 160ml/min. This is only half the story as it requires twice that amount due to the recirculation requirements, and that is just for a single head.
GIS’ in-house experts have developed and built field-proven systems capable of supplying multiple Xaar 1003 heads running at 80% duty cycle printing a 100% image for customers. For example, a seven head system would need to deliver and closely control a fluid flow rate in excess of 2.3 litres per minute. But this is only the start. Customers are looking to use inkjet for more demanding applications and are asking for larger systems to supply a greater number of printheads.
Although this example may not be the norm, smaller systems can also pose a challenge. As mentioned, control and monitoring are essential for print quality, and with the new generation of specialist fluids, tolerances need to be tighter to keep printing consistent. Producing ink delivery systems for a wide range of customers’ demands allows GIS to take these learnings and incorporate them into systems no matter the size or application, allowing you to benefit from other applications outside of your own business and enabling you to get your product to market faster. It also means that you can have confidence in the ink or fluid delivery system meeting the requirements of your customers.