Digital (Inkjet) Printing Equipment
What is a Digital Printing Machine?
Inkjet printing is the process in which a digital image is transferred directly to a substrate by dropping cyan, magenta, yellow, black, and white colored ink in a precise pattern using a print head mechanism to form said digital image. The inkjet printing process consists of two main components: the print head and the print bed. The print head is an ink delivery system. As the printhead moves across the part, ink droplets as small as 7 picoliters, fall onto the part in a precise pattern predetermined by the printer software.
The print bed is the mechanism in which parts are transported into the machine towards the print head and then back out of the machine once completed. The flatbed inkjet printer utilizes a vacuum table to hold parts secure as it travels into the machine and back out towards the operator. A conveyor bed is like a flatbed in that it will transport the parts into the machine to be printed, however, once the product is finished printing the conveyor will continue to feed through the machine until the part is unloaded. A conveyor system allows the operator to simultaneously load the machine while it is printing to save time.
What are an Inkjet Printing Machine’s Capabilities?
Inkjet printing equipment can print full-color images at incredible detail direct from a digital image. Inkjet printing gives the operator the flexibility to change over artwork on the fly. In addition, inkjet printing is great for product sampling, short-runs, and personalization. While a wide variety of inkjet printing equipment exists, some utilize an ink cartridge system, however, most offer a bulk ink system that allows for longer, continuous printing. Printing large images is best suited on an inkjet printing machine because of the extremely large print area. Fine detailed images and text are also best suited for inkjet printing because a machine can print up to 1200 dots per inch (dpi).
What are an Inkjet Printing Machine’s Limitations?
An inkjet printer is best suited for flat or slightly-curved parts. The reason is due to the print head’s distance away from the part, the closer the head is to the substrate, the greater the detail. Speed is also a factor when it comes to industrial production runs. Other types of printing equipment may be best suited if speed over quality is required. With continuous innovation in the inkjet printing industry, the limitations of what a machine can accomplish are diminishing day by day.