WHAT IS …….. INKJET 2.0 ?

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WHAT IS …….. INKJET 2.0 ?

 user 2009-11-10 at 10:46:26 am Views: 76
  • #22899

    WHAT IS …….. INKJET 2.0 ?
    Inkjet printing is moving quickly into mainstream roles for
    professional print projects, but it hasn’t been an easy road, as Frank
    Romano explains.Inkjet printing is the overnight sensation that took
    almost 40 years. Inkjet printing is a form of digital printing. Digital
    printing involves any reproduction process that does not use a static
    image carrier (such as a plate). Every page impression is regenerated,
    even if they are the same. Digital printing can use any method that
    places spots of coloured particles on substrates, with toner and inkjet
    being most common.

    Inkjet technology is either thermal (heat
    makes a bubble), piezo (pressure makes a bubble), or continuous
    (pressure makes a flow). Inkjet printing can be sheetfed, rollfed,
    flatbed, or combinations. They can use inks that are aqueous
    (water-based), solvent (petro-chemical-based), eco-solvent, and UV using
    either dyes or pigments.

    All digital printing systems are
    perfect for short runs and the only way to do variable and versioned
    jobs. The Holy Grail has been to apply digital printing as a plateless
    printing process for offset litho and flexo printing.Considering that
    toner-based digital printing dominates, why is inkjet generating

    • Less complexity. Almost everything about inkjet is in
    the heads. There are less electronics, heating units, and drums/belts
    to deal with.
    • Potential for spot colours. The single impediment to
    toner printing is its inability to print all the Pantone (and now Goe)
    • Like toner, there is no makeready so there is instant
    changeover of jobs with no waste.
    • Inkjet is scalable from the
    desktop to the plant floor. Thus, proofers could use exactly the same
    technology to allow for proofing in customer offices.
    • Larger
    toner-based systems have high power requirements with equally larger
    power units and severe environmental requirements. Inkjet requires much
    less of all that.
    • Inkjet ink is usually less costly than toner, but
    new toner manufacturing techniques my narrow that gap.

    There are
    still issues with substrate availability, nozzle clogging and head
    width. A lot will depend on ink formulations in terms of substrates and
    quality. Heads must be self-recovering to avoid clogs and missed spots.

    applications will include the so-called transpromo market for bills and
    statements that incorporate ads. Then, retail promotions that
    incorporate coupons. UV flatbed printers can print on thick board,
    plastic, metal and glass in addition to vinyl and fabric, and this opens
    many new industrial printing markets.

    Toner and inkjet printing
    are competing with offset litho and print buyers should investigate all
    processes for the applicability to specific projects. For both, there is
    no image carrier, no makeready, instant drying and integrated
    finishing. Today, quality and production speed are coming into alignment
    with industry needs.

    The professional inkjet market consists of
    photo labs, service bureaus, sign shops and quick printers, and
    represents a fast growing segment of the graphic arts industry. From its
    birth as an extension of the pen plotter business, wide-format product
    development has exploded.

    In the early 1990s, Encad was the first
    to show the concept of wide-format inkjet printing, with technology
    consisting of four thermal HP print heads using dye-based inks. Other
    companies followed, and wide-format graphics soon emerged as the next
    step in the evolution of inkjet printing. These printers started rather
    small at 36 inches, but quickly expanded in size as the needs of the
    users grew.

    Today, printers as wide as 16 feet are printing
    everything from point-of-purchase displays to fine-art reproduction.
    Ongoing research and development continues to improve and expand on the
    uses for wide-format inkjet printing. This is now an area where key
    desktop printer OEMs are focusing, and represents a possible growth
    opportunity for the inkjet aftermarket.

    Within a decade,
    wide-format inkjet printing has cut screen printing volumes by almost
    half. The market began by applying roll-fed printers and advanced to
    flatbed printers. Everything about the inkjet market is changing almost
    daily. Over 1,000 companies worldwide are working on some aspect of
    inkjet technology.

    There are many approaches to segmenting the
    inkjet printer market. The most basic categorisation is by the size of
    the image that can be produced:
    • specialty inkjet printers for
    mailing, marking, coding, etc (less than 6 inches wide);
    • desktop
    inkjet printers for home and business use (less than 18 inches wide);

    office printers and multi-function devices (less than 18 inches wide);

    Narrow format inkjet printers for the label market (less 24 inches
    • Wide format graphics inkjet printers (roll and flatbed)
    (greater than 24 inches wide);
    • Super wide or grand format inkjet
    printers (greater than 48 inches wide).

    The inkjet head is
    that element of a printer that applies ink onto a substrate. Printheads
    may be:
    • fixed
    • shuttle (moving)
    • page width array

    disposable: inkjet head is bonded on ink cartridges
    • non-disposable:
    inkjet head and ink cartridges are separate devices
    • removable
    (replaceable or disposable heads)

    The consumer market represents
    95 per cent of global sales for inkjet heads. The industrial and large
    format market represents about five per cent. Inkjet printing is digital
    printing. Over half of the volume printed digitally today is
    advertising collateral and direct mail – flyers, brochures, folders,
    booklets, postcards and self mailers. This promotional material has seen
    a shift in the last decade from 20,000 runs to multiple 2,000 runs, for
    example. Thus, even static material, if it meets the design and
    production criteria, is going digital.

    Offset litho, toner and
    inkjet printing will all co-exist because there are good reasons to use
    all of them. The digital printing wars are upon us: toner vs inkjet, and
    within inkjet, CIJ vs DOD, solvents vs aqueous, roll vs sheet, and
    greyscale vs binary.Welcome to Inkjet 2.0.