Memjet is chasing commercial print and packaging applications with DuraLink, a second generation version of its thermal inkjet technology.
The company has addressed the limitations of the first Memjet printheads, which while very fast, used only water based dye inks and suffered a short printhead life. This capped their appeal in the wider print world and while Memjet has been used in wide format corrugated board printing and labels, its only partner aiming at the wider commercial printing industry was Delphax. And that company is in hiatus having filed for receivership in Canada.
But Memjet is convinced that DuraLink will target the mainstream of commercial print applications. The printhead is good for at least 10 million ejections per nozzle and each pixel on a page is addressed by five of the 70,400 nozzles per printhead. These fire 2.2pl droplets to give a resolution of 1600x1600dpi for highest resolution or in steps to 1600x580dpi for highest throughput.
At the highest resolution the printhead will run at 75m/min, and its highest speed it will deliver 203m/min. This is comparable to speeds that piezo printheads are achieving in terms of quality and the Kodak's printheads in terms of speed.
Memjet has developed a set of modules around the printheads to enable OEMs to quickly create printing devices using the technology. Each DuraLink head is a 223.8mm wide unit that can be fitted inline with others to form a print bar up to 2.5 metres wide. These offer CMYK printing using pigment inks.
Development of the inks has taken five years says Memjet. Using recognised light fastness tests, it reckons that the inks are good for 40 years before fading sets in. Being water based, they are potential better suited to packaging applications than UV cured inks, though Memjet is making no such claims, at least not at this stage.
It has also worked to improve the strength of the printhead in terms of the Mems manufacturing process. This delivers more consistent chamber size, a new shape to to the chamber and nozzle design to deliver more consistent firing.
The company is now testing media to match the new head, recommending a priming coat on inkjet optimised papers, or uncoated papers. It will show developments so far at Print 17 in Chicago this month hoping to impress potential OEMs. If it signs any, the industry can expect to see the first DuraLink powered inkjet presses reach the market in 2019.
The company’s ambitions are underlined by the appointment of Eric Owen, previously with Kodak’s Enterprise Inkjet Division, as general manager of commercial printing. He says: “Memjet set out to develop an additional inkjet technology that would bring quality, speed and affordability to high-volume markets. To be successful, this technology also needed to keep pace with the rapid rate of change happening in the industry.
“The result of this effort is DuraLink. By bringing together a long-life printhead, durable pigment ink, 2.5 metre maximum print width and a range of versatile modules, DuraLink enables the rapid, cost effective development of next generation solutions for commercial, packaging and industrial printing markets.”
Memjet has responded to requirements of the commercial print industry with a new head that fires pigment inks and where printhead life is extended by at least ten times according to the company. The DuraLink head is also optimised for integration by OEM partners.