June 22, 2021 

Printhead Design Changes for 2021: The Road to Printed Perfection

Inkjet printheads

Innovation continues driving the industrial printing industry forward in 2021, with several interesting new developments in printhead design coming from multiple big players in the industry. 

In particular, suppliers are seeking to solve one of the most persistent problems with continuous inkjet (CIJ) technology—ink buildup. Since CIJ technology requires fast-drying ink, any pauses in the production line can cause the ink to dry and build up within the printhead’s nozzles. Printhead manufacturers like Leibinger and Videojet have found creative new approaches to address this issue. 

Here are some of the most exciting printhead design changes for 2021 that have the industry looking ahead as technology advances.

Printhead Design Changes for 2021

Printhead designers have approached the issue of ink buildup in a variety of ways. The new Leibinger solution features an auto-retracting nozzle, while KGKJet automatically seals the nozzle upon shutdown. Linx and Videojet took a different route, using self-cleaning solutions to clear the printhead nozzle instead of retracting or blocking it. 

Let’s explore each of these printhead design changes in more depth.

Auto-Retracting Printhead Nozzle

Leibinger’s new Sealtronic printhead prevents ink buildup using an auto-retracting nozzle. As soon as production stops, the printhead’s nozzle automatically retracts, preventing ink from entering, drying, and clogging the nozzle. Then, when production resumes, the nozzle automatically extends and prints without needing to be cleaned or rinsed.

Manufacturers will see reduced downtime after production pauses with the elimination of the cleaning process. Less cleaning also means less solvent use, which is not only better for the environment and the safety of your crew, but it also prevents splashing that affects the quality of your first few prints.

Auto-Capping Printhead Nozzle

KGKJet took a different approach to designing a CIJ printhead that doesn’t clog during production pauses. Its CCS3000 series automatically seals the printhead nozzle when the printer is shut down. It does so by moving the opening of the ink collection gutter to tightly close the opening of the nozzle. In addition, there’s a programmable interval mode that automatically turns the printer on at predetermined times to keep the ink from drying out within the hydraulic system.

KGKJet’s new printhead design also features a built-in eye loop so you can see the break-off in the printhead while it’s in operation. The CCS3000 printhead also contains the first industrial coder nozzle to use fluorine materials, reducing nozzle contamination and ensuring printhead stability.

Self-Cleaning Printheads

Linx offers a wide range of continuous inkjet printers that use a self-cleaning system to prevent ink buildup in the printhead nozzle. Its flagship line for 2021 is the Linx 7900 series of specialist CIJ coders. These printers use the FullFlush® system to automatically clean and dry the printhead and conduit at every shutdown, preventing leftover ink from clogging the nozzle.

Videojet’s new 1880 printhead takes a different approach to automatic cleaning. The 1880 features a sensor that detects ink buildup in the printhead, alerting the operator that cleaning is required. The user then presses a button to start the 1880’s auto-rinse function, which clears ink buildup in the nozzle.

In addition, the new 1880 printhead is designed with multiple mounting options for better line integration and closer proximity to the substrate. A durable, over-molded umbilical allows for increased printhead agility while withstanding harsh environments and line conditions.

Printhead Design Changes for 2021 and Beyond

Now that brands like Leibinger and KGKJet have paved the way with innovative, automated solutions to prevent ink buildup, you can expect to see other suppliers follow suit in the near future. It will be interesting to see how printhead designers are able to find new approaches to preventing clogs, rather than just cleaning them after they form.

Nozzle buildup isn’t the only problem suppliers are trying to solve as they develop new printhead design changes for 2021 and beyond. Printhead design trends are moving towards more modular units, with individual components that can easily be replaced as needed. Agility and flexibility are also concerns that are being addressed with new designs, to accommodate more complex and crowded production lines.

Stay up to date on all the exciting new printhead design changes for 2021 by subscribing to the C&M Digest newsletter. We’ll deliver bite-sized summaries of C&M Digest’s best industrial coding and marking content straight to your inbox.

C&M Digest Team

The C&M Digest Team is composed of experts from across the coding and marking world. Comprised of ink developers, hardware veterans, and engineers, our News Team delivers informed coverage that is always free from brand bias.

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