Inkjet design could print at 1,000 pages per minute

Whole-page printing technique uses a novel inkjet head offering the potential for blindingly quick speed

Inkjet printers could put out 1,000 pages per minute, thanks to a full-page print technique proposed by researchers.

The JeTrix technique could print books to order at bookshops at the rate of two a minute, or at airport kiosks eliminating the need for book stocks, and could be in use within two years, according to Moshe Einat, at the University of Judea and Samaria, in Ariel, West Bank. Instead of a moving print head, it uses a print "screen" the size of a piece of paper or larger, covered with tiny nozzles that can print sheets "almost instantly", said Einat, of the university's department of electrical and electronics engineering.

Einat and his colleague Nissim Einat have created a small prototype, 12cm square, which has already hit speeds of 1,000 pages per minute, he told ZDNet UK. The prototype, made up of 57,600 nozzles fed by micro-reservoirs 1mm square, was funded by the Israeli Government and private "angel" investors, but with more funding, Einat plans to make a whole-page version.

The technique avoids the need to move a print head across the paper, but creates other problems such as the complexity of the pipe manifold connecting the reservoir to the print head, and the possibility of shockwaves, which would set up cross talk between ink channels.

The researchers solved these issues with micro-reservoirs, each of which feeds four nozzles by capillary action, and which are fed by an ink wiper which fills them up. The design is described in detail in a paper "Two-dimension full array high-speed ink-jet print head" in Applied Physics Letters, and reported in Physorg.

The research, prototypes and patent applications have cost $140,000, partly funded by the Israeli ministry of industry, said Einat. "We are now in a fund rising stage," he went on. "Assuming we manage to raise the funds, the estimated time [a year and half to commercial products] is applicable." The 1000ppm speed would be reached from the very first commercial models, he said.

"The technology can be widely used in reprography, newspapers and other applications and we anticipate that step by step it will replace the existing technology in various niches," said Einat.


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