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Ink Jet Technology

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by James McMillan, Sep 22, 2003.

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  1. Hello,

    I am aware of a number of groups using ink jet technology to deposit
    materials to construct everything from MEMS and Solar Cells to possibly
    nano scale devices.

    I have recently been told (by the maker of commercial ink jet heads)
    that some groups have, to minimize costs, utilised the piezoelectric ink
    jet heads from EPSON commercial ink jet printers.

    These EPSON heads have the ability to deposit as low as 5 picolitres of ink.
    An EPSON engineer has been quoted as saying that there latest heads
    are capable of creating lines 1um in width.

    My question is: Does anyone have experience utilising EPSON ink jet
    heads in this type of application? Any advice on reverse
    engineering the control of such a head?

  2. chan

    chan Guest

  3. Zak

    Zak Guest

    I think the current claim is 2 picolitres for soem high end consumer
    models. Really cheap ones do 4 or 5 picolitres I think.
    That wil depend on the material you print on. This will probably require
    a substrate that absorbdthe ink very quickly, so it can't run.
    The best result on pape ris reached with repetitive motion and 'fill in
    the gaps' operation. I guess copying waveforms from an operational
    printer will go a long way (if the heads are passive... hmm).

    As for the software: the Epson heads have quite big distances between
    nozzles. The idea is that the paper feed is close but not equal to this
    difference. The difference between these is what forms the vertical

    Another interesting thing is that for a printer, it doesnt matter too
    much if the nozzles are not equal in size, as long as the dots printed
    by each nozzle are well distributed through the page. This is helped by
    the above mentioned vertical feed principle, but can be helped further
    with more microfeeds and using multiple nozzles on the same scan line.

    But a functional application surely has other goals.

    And don't forget that a nozzle is said to clog if it doesn't print for a
    few seconds. Thus they are either made to dump ink in the cleaning
    station in the printer if nothing was printed. But that's doen by the
    printer (for Epson, that is).

  4. Well, the big thing now with Ink Jet technology is using
    solutions composed of Nanoparticles of Silver or Gold.

    The particles are around 7 nm in size and when cured combine
    to form bulk material. This is perfect for ink jet printing
    inductors or PCB traces. It has been shown by a group at MIT that its
    possible to make 3-D structures by printing in layers.

    You can see their work at:

    Their results were rather large, and fall well short of
    1 micron resolution but they were using 70 pl drops.
    (Actually, the head they used, made by Hitachi-Koki,
    is rated for drops on the order of 90-120 pl)

    Just imagine how small things can get with 5 pl.

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