Konica Minolta Releasing MEMS Printheads

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Konica Minolta has released information on a new generation of print heads aimed at the evolving graphic arts, industrial and functional printing markets. These printheads have a resolution as high as 1200 nozzles per inch (npi), drop size as low as 3 picolitres, jetting frequency of up to 100 kHz, and a physical size that is significantly smaller than the previous generation of Konica Minolta heads.

As with many print head manufacturers, Konica Minolta is manufacturing these printheads using Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) fabrication. Konica Minolta’s high precision printhead is capable of jetting of a range of inks and functional materials such as resins. These new capabilities will enable innovative new products in a range of industries. Konica Minolta expects to begin mass production of these heads during 2016.

The main features of the new heads include high-density nozzle array. The new printhead design includes 1024 nozzles arrayed in three rows that are offset slightly from each other to enable high print resolution and high nozzle density.

This compact and multi-row design is key to enabling high resolution printing. Typically, to get similar print resolution with single channel print heads, you must array multiple print heads in a staggered formation to achieve the same result. This is costly and technically challenging. This new compact design enables the use of these print heads in small systems targeted at high precision manufacturing such as printed electronics as well as wide-array systems where less print heads are required to achieve wide print widths while still maintaining high print resolution and strong output quality.

Konica Minolta’s MEMS Fabricated Inkjet consists of an improved ink resistance and viscosity range. The new heads have improved resistance to corrosion and any adverse impact from the ink or materials chemistry.

Konica Minolta believes that these heads are capable of reliably jetting materials and inks ranging from low-viscosity inks (aqueous inks) to high-viscosity inks (including UV and solvent inks). This is a critical element for the reliability and productivity of systems enabled by these print heads.
 
This new printhead platform will help Konica Minolta to grow its position in existing and emerging digitally-enabled applications. With high resolution, small drop size, and greater nozzle density, these heads will enable a range of new applications in commercial printing, packaging, textile printing and functional material deposition.

In the past few years, Konica Minolta and its partners have developed a range of products using Konica Minolta heads. These include, for example, the MGI JetVarnish 3D for adding value to printed pages through dimensional printing; the Anderson COJET aimed at UV printing on industrial surfaces such as wood and laminates; Konica Minolta’s own Nassanger textile printers, and the B2-format KM-1 for cut-sheet commercial and folding carton packaging printing.

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