July 29, 2021 

The 4 Best Printers for Continuous Inkjet Systems

Videojet CIJ printer

Since continuous inkjet (CIJ) printers were first introduced to the market in the late 1950s, they have been a great asset to industrial production lines. Capable of printing on products moving at hundreds of meters per minute, CIJ printers are prized for their speed, reliability, and uninterrupted coding style. With a solid CIJ printer on the production line, companies can mark thousands of products per day with essential information like serial numbers, barcodes, expiration dates, and more.

Of course, not all CIJ printers are built the same. While the coding and marking industry is filled with plenty of high-quality hardware, cheap and unreliable printers are still commonly produced in the field. With poor printer construction come several issues, including:

Each of these elements can lead to costly downtime and ruin daily output. Fortunately, it isn’t hard to find a great CIJ printer when you know where to look.

The Top CIJ Printers for Coding and Marking Operations

The four models detailed below are a great place to start if you’re searching for the best printers for continuous inkjet systems.

1. Hitachi UX Dynamic 

Founded in 1910, Hitachi, Ltd. is a Japanese company that makes everything from construction equipment and car information systems to military vehicles. Among all of its diverse product output is one of the most reliable CIJ printers on the market—the Hitachi UX Dynamic Ink Jet Printer.

Built with an IP-65 rated infrastructure, the Hitachi UX Dynamic can successfully operate in many environments that prove challenging to other CIJ models. Offering a maximum print rate of around 2,000 characters per second, the UX Dynamic can maintain operation in:

  • Extremely hot environments, up to 122°F (50°C).
  • Extremely cold environments, as low as 32°F (0°C).
  • Dusty environments, as the model offers complete dust ingress protection.

Beyond its impressive environmental resistance, the Hitachi UX Dynamic has improved the modularity of the quick filter design compared to the RX2 or PXR models. The UX Dynamic’s pulsating ink recovery system, which is unique to Hitachi, uses a rotary motion within the printhead that creates small sections of fluid in a push/pull motion rather than a continuous ink stream. Compared to a traditional CIJ fluid recovery system, the UX Dynamic’s pulsating setup can recover 30% more ink by reducing both ink evaporation and makeup consumption. Consequently, users can stretch their dollars further by reducing their overall ink budget. 

Hitachi has been gaining market share by pricing the system and consumables at a fair value and truly having a system that runs flawlessly once installed. The lead times for components, parts, and some specialty inks shipped from Japan may be extended if your local distributor does not keep a vast inventory. The price of the unit before accessories, installation, and other options will range from $11,000-$13,000.

2. Videojet 1880 Industrial Inkjet Printer

For decades, Videojet has held a reputation worldwide for producing some of the best printers for continuous inkjet systems. In fact, it was responsible for developing and releasing the first commercial inkjet printer back in 1969. Today, it strives to still be recognized as a global leader in printing technology, with the Videojet 1880 being its latest contribution to the CIJ market.

What makes the 1880 such a good line printer is its various downtime-reducing product features designed specifically with harsh environments in mind. With the ability to print one to five lines of text at speeds of up to 334 meters per minute, the 1880 can achieve maximum uptime by providing operators with:

  • Constant monitoring of overall printer health, as well as remote alerts for when any health parameters are detected to be problematic.
  • On-screen maintenance guides that show users how to quickly repair any faults as well as periodic recommendations on how to improve overall performance. 
  • Filters located outside of the core for ease of replacement without having to remove all the components.

With these assets, operators can preemptively solve problems without seeking professional help or requiring time-based preventive maintenance. The price of the 1880 with standard peripherals, software and installation, and other options will range from $18,000-$20,000.

3. Keyence MK-G series

Headquartered in Osaka, Japan, Keyence specializes in developing production line technologies. In addition to offering several inkjet printers and laser markers, Keyence also creates vision systems, barcode readers, automation sensors, and other technologies that ensure applied codes comply with governmental regulations and supply chain guidelines. As an automation company, Keyence’s solution for manufacturers is focused more on ensuring code quality, and the company offers other products to ensure uptime and to reduce issues such as code clipping. Keyence also has a software suite for its CIJ printer, though it is not clearly advertised on its website. 

For people who prefer to self-install,  Keyence has taken quality control to the next level by producing the world’s first high-end, self-troubleshooting CIJ printer, the MK-G Series (VideoJet makes this same claim with its 1880 MAXIMiZE™ diagnostics suite). Keyence often markets the MK-G Series by dropping off the printer to various manufacturing sites unsolicited. By doing this, the hope is that the manufacturer will replace any broken printers with the MK-G Series, as most companies can figure out how to install the printer themselves. This justifies Keyence’s marketing claim of not needing service technicians in the area.

Whereas the Videojet 1880 extends uptime by alerting the user to potential problems, the MK-G performs many maintenance tasks automatically. Many companies claim their products can do the same, but Keyence is a sensor manufacturer and specializes in this. For instance, the MK-G offers auto-shower cleaning within the printhead to eliminate any ink blockage. It also prevents ink dilution through the use of viscosity sensors and a solvent-collecting conditioning tank. Finally, the MK-G eliminates any temperature-based issues by changing ink viscosity to match the environment. 

Through these features, the MK-G Series can maintain print quality with minimal user intervention. A drawback to the MG-K series is the ink portfolio is limited to only six inks and is exported from Japan.

4. Koening & Bauer alphaJET 5 HS-M

German-based company Koening & Bauer, more commonly known as KBA, has been part of the printing field since the early 1800s. Beginning as a printing press manufacturer, the company has evolved and currently stands as the oldest printing press company still in service. As part of its company growth, Koening & Bauer began producing industrial coding products 45 years ago, and today, it sells the alphaJET 5 HS-M, a sturdy CIJ model with impressive technical specifications. 

Simply put, the other printers on this list cannot keep up with the alphaJET 5 HS-M’s line speed capabilities. Every printer profiled above prints at around 300 meters per minute—the alphaJET 5 HS-M can achieve speeds of 700 meters per minute in specific conditions. This speed doesn’t come at the expense of reliability either, as the printer’s high-quality construction allows for a machine uptime of over 99%. KBA’s distribution in certain markets focuses on niche industries. Unless you are in a specific industry, this printer brand may be unfamiliar to you. KBA makes many claims about the HS product line, including its high uptime and its ability to save manufacturers money on consumables connectivity, allowing for companies to focus more on their speed abilities.

The alphaJET 5 HS-M is a great fit for companies that require top speeds from their CIJ hardware, but the ink portfolio is standard aside from KBA’s pigmented options.

Want More Info on the Best Printers for Continuous Inkjet Systems? Stay Tuned to C&M Digest

CIJ printers play a key role in countless production lines across the globe. With how important product markings are to supply chain traceability and retail processing, companies need to know that their printers will be able to produce quality codes day in and day out. Fortunately, if they implement any of the four high-end profiled printers, they can rest assured that their lines are in good hands. It’s important to note that the prices of these systems range from $11,000-$15,000 before accessories.

To learn more about the best CIJ hardware the industry has to offer, keep a lookout for more coverage from C&M Digest.

Want more info on the best printers for continuous inkjet systems? Stay connected with C&M Digest by subscribing to our newsletter. With information on hardware, formulas, and other important marking topics, our newsletter will keep you updated on the latest industry developments. To get in touch with us about possible collaborations or ideas for coverage, contact us today.

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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