Confession: Yes, I’m an Inkjet Junkie
They say the first step to recovery is to admit that you have a problem in the first place. But do I? Have a problem that is? My fascination with all types of production and industrial inkjet goes way back to my packaging days when I was with Inland Container, now known as International Paper. Although I may be dating myself by saying this, that would be back in 1998. That was the first time when I really considered myself a “user.” My first experience was using Scitex 6240 print heads while developing single-pass, non-impact, variable data inkjet printing directly onto corrugated.
Oh, were those fun times. In the back corner of the 96 degree-temperature corrugated mill—just me and four 6240s with aqueous inks, mounted on an alpha machine, which at the time looked like an erector set. Those print heads were not the little devices that are mostly used today; at a print width of 4.27” wide and sporting a 19x8x8” size, these heads had some serious weight to them. They were real workhorses, though, and printed at 1,000 fpm. I was completing R&D and testing while running B, C and E flute, wood slats (for the forestry market), as well as double thick and KD (knock down) format boxes. Really anything that I could get my hands on to run under the print heads to justify that my company move forward with the technology. It was hot and dirty conditions but, with ink under my nails, I was totally happy. At the time, I didn’t realize just how in-deep I was getting with my inkjet addiction.
During the course of almost two decades, the more inkjet I got involved with, the more I needed to incorporate inkjet into my daily life, oh, I mean production. So, always craving more, I started working with X-Y flatbed and single-pass platforms with Xaar and Fuji Dimatix print heads and UV inks. This opened up working with wood, metal, glass and plastics for the industrial side of inkjet. Wow, what a mind blower—I discovered that the opportunity for inkjet is truly limitless. From home, medical, automotive to industrial applications, you can print anything as long as the ink and substrate are compatible (I actually had to print barcodes on dentures.) I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the greatest “suppliers,” I mean ink chemists, who have made creating great color and print quality the easy part of my job. Working with UV platforms gave me the extra rush I needed, for the time being.
Then, a few years back, I felt the need for more—the need to move faster. High-speed production inkjet has filled that void just nicely. It provides the rush of millions of drops, shooting at the speed of nanoseconds, at a web moving at speeds up to 800 fpm. I don’t have the shakes yet, but I am sure that with the new wide-format machine, ink and precoating innovations that Kodak, HP and Canon/Océ have recently announced, we’ll all be able to get our “fix” very soon, very soon indeed.
Yes, I said “us.” If you are reading this, you are most likely an inkjet junkie, too. Share your story with me on how inkjet has impacted your life.