Reliability and robustness are the key features of Seiko’s new RC1536 printheads for water-based ink applications.
Seiko’s Printek Division, the department responsible for developing industrial inkjet printheads, is working hard to bring to market a truly dependable printhead for use with water-based inks.
Seiko’s engineers initially believed that the printhead architecture was compatible with water-based inks, but soon realised that water is corrosive and is liable to damage critical parts of the printhead, making it necessary to adapt it to this new eco-friendly process.
But that was not the only problem. Seiko’s engineers realised that corrosion was not occurring during compatibility testing but during a pulse durability test performed while testing the product. In this kind of test the piezo is continuously moved within the printhead to simulate the printhead’s life cycle. These tests needed to be performed after every iteration and kept the engineers very busy until they finally identified the parts that remain stable longer than the expected lifetime of the printhead and therefore do not limit its functionality.
Although products capable of printing water-based inks are already available on the market, Seiko wanted to go further than this and bring the reliability and robustness of its RC1536 printhead series to water-based ink applications.
In the ceramic tile industry, which is subject to increasingly stringent environmental standards, Seiko RC1536 printheads can replace oil-based versions, allowing printing machine manufacturers to adapt easily to changes and respond rapidly to the needs of the market.
Along with applications in the ceramic industry where it successfully passed the beta tests, the printhead is now being tested in other industries, including corrugated board, 3D printing and even textiles. Across all sectors there is a high demand for reliable printheads capable of handling high drop volumes and a wide range of operations.
Seiko’s next goal is to continue to work closely with ink manufacturers to identify the limitations and potential for developing a complete solution for different market segments.