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Fri, Nov

What’s in your next printer?

Attend ESMA’s IJC conference in Dusseldorf on 29-30 October and you might find out, as Steve Knight, director of Digital Direct Technology and founder of TheIJC, explains.

Yup, the IJC (inkjet conference) is techy. But should that put you off or prompt you to go?

Every year we see new printers coming to the market, each one performing better than the generation before. But what is driving the evolution and what can we expect to see next? Some changes are driven by better integration knowledge, some by new core technology - inkjet is not one area of development but many. Understanding inkjet evolution needs an eye on each of the technologies involved and of how they interact. In isolation each of these changes is an improvement - cumulatively they make a generational change on each equipment release.

Let’s try and break down some of the new technologies considered at TheIJC, and at how quickly they’ll appear as features on new products in the market. Firstly, let’s look at the key technology areas.

Chemistry and curing – substrate interaction and validation

A huge topic to kick off with - it is after all the main objective of printing - but what we often forget are the special challenges inkjet presents. The challenge is presented by the narrow physical requirements of the inkjet printhead. We can only use small particles due to the nozzle size, and we can only use a narrow range of viscosities due to the firing mechanism. Understanding this challenge helps the printer understand and resolve some of his print problems. 

As printers we need to know about surface energy and how to measure it and how it affects everything from image quality to curing and adhesion. Many of the presentations at TheIJC cover this topic, understanding the problem makes finding a solution much easier. 

Among others, Fujifilm Ink Solutions will talk this year about ‘Inks for MEMS printheads: challenges and opportunities’, ImageXpert will explain ‘Ink and waveform performance optimisation’ and Toshiba Tec will demonstrate the ‘Advantage of real through channel recirculation and compact ink recirculation system”. 

Software and image enhancement

Computers continue to evolve in both processing power and memory performance, new software algorithms and calibration techniques now eliminate some of the print artefacts, such as banding and other variations in print. Not only is image quality enhanced but equipment performance can also be increased and longevity of key components such as printheads could be affected. Knowing what’s possible and whether it’s available could be vital for your next investment. Key software companies explain data handling, image quality and defect correction for high speed printing systems at TheIJC this year.

Printheads

How will the next generation of printheads impact the next generation of printers? As MEMS printheads start to mature and more 1,200dpi native resolution printheads come to the market, how will this impact printer performance? All the printhead manufacturers are at TheIJC to answer these questions: Epson, Fujifilm Dimatix, Konica Minolta, Kyocera, Memjet, Ricoh, Seiko, Toshiba Tec and Xaar will present. There is ample time during the networking sessions to meet and discuss their products and technologies.

Analysis

We continue to see more analytic equipment presented at TheIJC, and whilst it is unlikely to be used at the printer site, knowing the routine analysis that occurs in ink development and manufacture will help an understanding of the quality of product that most ink manufacturers supply. 

In summary

The sixth European edition of the IJC will provide insight across the whole gamut of technologies that come together to create successful inkjet products and solutions. Each aspect of inkjet will be covered in over 60 presentations from an international community of engineers, chemists, application specialists and academic figureheads. 

Inaugurated in 2014, the conference is a one-of-a-kind event, bringing together global technology suppliers, machine builders, print service providers and brand owners. This year all participants will receive a free daily ticket to Drupa 2020 as well as crucial information on the technical direction of the inkjet market.

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