2014: The Year of the Print Head

Happy New Year everyone and thank you for your continued interest in my blog posts. I hope I can be a source of information this year that can help drive your productivity and profits.

2014 should be a year of innovation. I am calling it “The Year of the Print Head.” As we have seen in 2013, there are many new uses for print heads that we could never have imagined just a few years back. As I have had my head engulfed in new chemistries and technology for the 2D printing markets, 3D has quickly risen with a WOW factor. From printing icing, sugars, various food products, ceramic, glass, human tissue, plastic and bio for medical and dental, to building materials such as concrete and metals for the aerospace, architectural and automotive industries, if you can melt or dissolve it, you can jet it.

There is a lot of synergy between the 2D and 3D markets. A “version” of 3D printing has been part of 2D inkjet printing for some time now with the fun patterns and effects that can be done jetting UV-curable varnishes. This, though, is used on single pass or flatbed machines that use UV-cured inks.

This effect works well if you want to create a “touch and feel” for the book covers or packaging.


But the 3D market, which is all the buzz, is different…it does not create effects, but builds “working things.”

As the 2D printing market is creating print heads with higher and higher resolutions and with smaller jet sizes, the 3D market is utilizing print heads made up of varied-sized nozzles, in which the chosen material is jetted from. 3D’s resolution, which is measured in microns, does not determine the detail per x/y coordinate, but in the Z direction or thickness. This Z direction is the factor that determines how smooth the product looks and feels. The drop sizes, which are variable in some cases, can be much larger than 2D print heads and based on the material to be jetted. The lower the micron thickness of the layer resolution in combination with drop size, the smoother and more detailed the part is.

Mary Schilling works with all the elements of the digital process-from conventional and inkjet technologies to fluids and substrates-and provides technical support to print providers on optimizing print quality while lowering total print cost. Understanding the dynamics of the digital marketplace, and the incredible growth and advancements in inkjet technology, Mary provides customers with print quality, color gamut, fluid consumption, machine and print quality analysis, utilizing G7 methodology. She also works with inkjet fluid and machine developers to align paper development of new, innovative inkjet substrates. As the owner of Schilling Inkjet Consulting, she consults with fluid and inkjet machinery suppliers and end users on how to improve color and print quality for paper, plastics, metal, fabric and glass with UV, solvent and aqueous inkjet fluids. Mary received Innovator of the Year awards from the Flexographic Technical Association and from Xplor International for her efforts in closing the gap between document printing and digital packaging. She is G7 certified and a member of the IDEAlliance Print Properties Committee.
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