What is a CIJ inkjet printer, and what are the Advantages of CIJ Printing over TIJ Printing?
What is a CIJ Inkjet Printer?
CIJ, or Continuous Inkjet, is a type of non-contact printing technology. In CIJ printing, a high-pressure pump directs liquid ink through a gun body and a microscopic nozzle, creating a continuous stream of ink droplets. A portion of these droplets is used for printing, while the rest are recycled.
The key steps involved in CIJ printing are:
- Ink Droplet Formation: Ink is emitted continuously from a nozzle.
- Charging and Deflection: The droplets are electrically charged and then deflected by an electric field to form the desired pattern on the substrate.
- Recycling of Unused Ink: Non-printing droplets are captured and recycled back into the system.
Advantages of CIJ Printing over TIJ Printing
- Speed and Efficiency: CIJ printers can operate at very high speeds, making them ideal for industrial environments where rapid production is crucial.
- Versatility: They can print on a variety of surfaces, including uneven, rough, or varied textures. This makes CIJ suitable for a range of industries from food packaging to electronics.
- Non-Contact Printing: The ability to print without contact with the product surface allows for greater flexibility in handling a range of product shapes and sizes.
- Continuous Printing: CIJ printers can operate for long periods without interruption, which is beneficial for high-volume production lines.
- Durability of Ink: The inks used in CIJ printing are usually more durable, making them resistant to smearing and capable of withstanding harsh environments.
Limitations of CIJ when Compared to TIJ
However, CIJ printers also have some limitations compared to TIJ printers:
- Maintenance: They typically require more maintenance due to the complexity of the system and the need to manage the recycled ink.
- Initial Cost: CIJ printers can be more expensive initially compared to TIJ printers.
- Ink Consumption: They may use more ink, as some of it is lost in the recycling process.
What is a TIJ Inkjet Printer?
A thermal inkjet (TIJ) printer is a non-contact printing method that can print on almost any surface. TIJ printers are used in many printers, from desktop printers to large-format plotters. They are known for being efficient and creating high-quality prints at fast speeds. In contrast, TIJ printers, which use a thermal process to expel ink droplets, are often simpler, less expensive, and require less maintenance. However, they are usually slower, less versatile in terms of substrate compatibility, and not as robust in industrial settings as CIJ printers.
Limitations of TIJ Printers Compared to CIJ Printers
While Thermal Inkjet (TIJ) printers are known for their high-resolution printing capabilities, they also come with certain limitations, especially when compared to Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) printers. One of the primary concerns is the susceptibility of TIJ printers to damage, particularly to their high-resolution cartridges.
Susceptibility to Ink Drying and Cartridge Damage
TIJ printers operate using cartridges that can be sensitive to drying. The 'de-cap time' – the period a printer can stay idle before the ink begins to dry or deteriorate – is relatively short in TIJ printers. If the solvent-based ink dries, it can lead to issues like faded prints or even the inability to print. This limitation is particularly noticeable in production environments where printers might be idle for short periods, such as during breaks.
In practice, this means that in a TIJ system, if you are not planning to use the printer for more than 15 minutes, such as during a morning tea break, it's often necessary to remove the ink cartridges to prevent drying. However, this can be inconvenient and disruptive to workflow. Additionally, after such breaks, it’s common to find that the first few prints can appear faded, indicating that the printer requires some time to return to optimal printing conditions.
CIJ as a Recommended Alternative for Continuous Production
In contrast, CIJ printers are more resilient in this aspect. They are designed for continuous production, and their print quality remains consistent even after idle periods. The print quality from a CIJ printer will still look as sharp after a break as it did before, which is a significant advantage in maintaining consistent product quality.
Tailored Solutions for Different Business Stages
Recognizing these limitations, we often recommend CIJ printers for production plants where consistent quality and minimal operational disruption are critical, and where the budget allows for the initial investment in CIJ technology. For companies that are starting out or have budget constraints, we offer an economical 'Starter' hire solution. This plan is tailored to your production rates, allowing your company to benefit from the advantages of CIJ printing without the significant upfront capital costs. Our goal is to help your business grow sustainably, ensuring that your products always meet the highest standards of presentation.