Inkjet Proofing Innovation Technology (I)

If all inkjet engines are the same, you can only evaluate them based on price and output size. However, the ink cartridges, dye/pigment, and ink delivery systems of each inkjet proofing device have unique characteristics.

The traditional ink cartridges are all four colors of Cyan, Cyan, Yellow and Black (CMYK), but many newer printers currently use six-color ink cartridges. In addition to the standard printing original colors, there are two additional colors: light cyan and light cyan. . Light black (gray) is the defining characteristic of most seven-color ink cartridges. This seven-color ink cartridge is often abbreviated as CcMmYKk by only taking the initials; the lowercase letters are used to indicate light colors. Including lighter colors further expands the device's color gamut, including brighter color ranges to print softer color patterns. Since yellow is a color that is hardly distinguishable by the human eye, all manufacturers do not add a light yellow color to the cartridge. In addition, Roland and MacDermid ColorSpan also offer cartridges that include orange and green; DisplayMaker printers from ColorSpan even have 12-color cartridges that include red and blue.

The fight between dyes and pigments remains a hot topic of discussion. Although dyes have a long history and are generally cheaper in the proofing market, many customers are still very interested in new pigment-based inks. According to Roy Bohnen of Chromaticity, which provides color management consulting services, the most attractive feature of pigments in document processing of color management properties is its appearance. “The effect of ink drying on the Epson's new Ultrachrome pigment-based inks. It was much smaller.” said Mr. Bohnen, “The test object was measured after 10 minutes of output, and then measured again after two weeks of display. There was virtually no change in the measured value.”

The amount of ink dropped is crucial

The printer's ink supply system is usually divided into three types: continuous ink flow, thermal ink on demand, and piezoelectric ink on demand. About 20 years ago, Se Angel's IRIS proofing machine brought continuous ink flow imaging technology to the printing technology field, drawing a continuous stream of ink through a specially-shaped ink jet nozzle, and then converting the ink stream into a series of ink droplets. These ink droplets are respectively aimed at different parts of the printing material for printing or directly into the waste ink tank. The on-demand ink supply concept recently introduced is the use of external forces to force small ink droplets through a small hole into the nozzle. The piezoelectric device forces the ink to eject by squeezing the ink chamber by physical force, and the thermal device causes the ink droplets in the inkjet nozzle to expand and eject by heating the ink chamber.

Regardless of how the ink droplets are generated, it will eventually fall onto the surface of the proof sheet. The amount of ink that falls in each particular area determines the apparent clarity of the printer. In the past five years, we have seen that the resolution has increased from the initial 300 dpi to 1440 dpi and even 2880
Dpi. However, these data do not always bring about the desired improvement of image quality. Compared with the two devices with different specifications, the increase in addressability (resolution value) is accompanied by a corresponding decrease in the amount of ink dropped.

Until recently, users who purchased inkjet printers for printing technology were looking for a bundled RIP (either on an accompanying computer workstation or built into the device itself). If you use the RIP of an existing imagesetter or platesetter to drive a new inkjet printer, you can purchase a more cost-effective RIP-free device. Heidelberg, Creo, and Agfa can all provide color management services as an additional service for inkjet printers to enter the workflow system.


Sherpa series digital proofers have a good reputation for high quality and ease of use, and are also known for their compatibility with the Agfa Apogee workflow. The six-color Sherpa 43, Sherpa 62, and Sherpamatic printers use the Mutoh RJ-6100 Plus “Micro Dot” piezo engine, while the recently launched Grand Sherpa (50, 64, and 87-wide) is based on the Mutoh RJ-8000 Technological four-color device. The newest member of the Agfa inkjet printing family is the 24-inch wide-format seven-color device, the Sherpa 24m contract proofer. Its four picoliter minimum droplet size can provide excellent image detail at 720 x 720 dpi resolution.

Canon USA

Canon continues to expand its inkjet products in the printing technology sector. Canon’s newest product imagePROGRAF W8200 has just been launched at Graph Expo 2003. The six-color W8200 can process single sheets or webs up to 44 inches in width, and can use dye or pigment-based inks to achieve 1200 dpi resolution with 8 picoliter minimum droplets. The system also includes a simple software RIP that can process Postscript files from the activation folder, but does not support color management.

Since 1977, Canon has called its thermal technology a "bubble jet" that uses small resistors to generate thermal energy to push ink droplets through the nozzles. MicroFine Droplet Technology is Canon's latest version of the foaming inkjet engine featuring a 1.07-inch wide, high-density print head. For thermal inkjet devices, price and performance are key sales points, and Canon claims that the device does not require regular maintenance or replacement of parts.


After acquiring Saturn and its IRIS inkjet printer division in April 2000, Creo engineers further upgraded the traditional IRIS continuous ink jet engine. The company produced a modular ink cartridge, IrisPEN, with improved performance and ease of maintenance as part of Creo's new Multi-dro Array inkjet imaging technology. In Creo's new Veris digital contract proofing system, IrisPEN delivers highly detailed results with an ultra-small, three picoliter drop delivering 1500-dpi resolution images. The interior of the Veris system is precisely calibrated to determine if the inks, substrates, and ICC profiles used match each other. As the well-known "Creo Certified Process", the Veris system can directly image certified proofs on the surface of proofs, as well as a series of parameters for proofing.

DuPont Imaging Technology

DuPont's latest inkjet printer is Cromalin b2, which is currently available in Europe. The new Cromalin b2 printer is an industrial piezoelectric on-demand ink printer that can image on the rotating drum surface through temperature control, bending plates, piezo head arrays, etc.

"The purpose of designing this system is not to replace the existing digital inkproof Digital Waterproof IG4 printer." explains Craig Reed, DuPont's global business manager for inkjet printing equipment. "Instead, Chromalin b2 is positioned to achieve accurate rotary drum imaging." There are a variety of price points, including a dual processor and high-end Dell workstations to manage RIP software."

Mr. Reed also explained the reason why the new printer chose the rotating paper roller structure. "This printer is not suitable for making labels. It is a special equipment for digital proofing. We regard this printer as providing a full service package product: not only installation but also training services. When we leave a company after installation, they It has already begun production."

Encad Corporation

Kodak’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Encad Corporation's thermal particle explosive ink jet equipment (now offered by Kodak) can print products with a large color gamut and a large color gamut. What distinguishes the Encad NovaJet 880 is not only its 60-inch web width, but also its ability to use both dye or pigment inks and eight-color ink cartridges. Standard CMYK four printing primaries can be extended with light blue, light, orange, and green, or the user can choose to use three different shades of color plus three shades of cyan to match yellow and black. For substrates that require very high ink coverage, Encad's new Double Drop technology allows users to achieve twice the normal amount of ink on the substrate without affecting output throughput. (to be continued)

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