Turning Images into Ink Drops
Inkjet technology has improved dramatically alongside printhead reliability to become much more accepted in industrial applications.
However, there has also been a lot of development in inks, system design, software and electronics to attain this level of reliability – and maintaining accurate drop placement on a range of surfaces can still present challenges.
Solutions through software innovation
Innovation in software can help improve image quality and enable inkjet to access new demanding applications.
Joining a series of printheads together into wide, single pass arrays means that ‘close to’ invisible stitching is essential to achieve high print quality. Good stitching strategies, in the area where the printheads join together, are critical. The human eye quickly detects discontinuities in the printed output – particularly in areas of flat colour. Our software offers a number of tools for creating stitch patterns, which can be tailored to different substrates and different inks to achieve the best print quality.
Mixed resolution and mixed printheads
Some applications may need to jet several different fluids such as large particulate pre-coats, low viscosity coloured inks or functional fluids and high viscosity post-coats. One printhead technology may be more suitable for one fluid, perhaps jetting large drops in binary mode, and a different printhead technology may be better suited to other fluids – perhaps printing in greyscale, with small drops for areas of the print that require fine detail. Our technology offers the ability to mix print resolutions or even different printhead technologies within a single system.
Curved surface printing
Products with curved or angled surfaces create many challenges for inkjet, including changes in drop throw distance, jet straightness, drop density and print resolution. Without correction, these errors can result in unacceptable image distortion. Our software can compensate for the time of flight differences of the ink drops, nozzle misalignment, dot gain and drop density changes – and generate a high-quality image for a range of curved surfaces including tubes, bottles, cones and tubs.
Nozzle out correction
Although printhead and inkjet reliability has improved significantly in recent years, enabling the launch of many successful single pass systems; the potential for missing nozzles has delayed full acceptance of inkjet in some markets. Moreover, new high resolution printheads with very small drop sizes and a very large number of nozzles inevitably increase the potential for occasional blocked nozzles. Using innovative image processing techniques, we have developed software that can almost completely hide blocked or damaged nozzles in single pass systems, reducing downtime and / or extending the usable life of the printhead.