Inkjet: Putting the Right Pieces Together

The other day, someone asked me “if I could simplify high-speed, wide-format, aqueous inkjet in one simple explanation what would it be?” So, like many times before, I referred back to a trusty childhood toy: “Mr. Potato Head.”

The toy can be purchased in various marketing styles, like Star Wars, Halloween, sports and super heroes. Regardless which theme you choose, they all come with three main parts—a head, feet and arms that create the physical appearance, as well as accessories such as eyes, mouths, ears and noses to create the look and feel. The choices and placement of the accessories creates the finished look of the toy.

High-speed, aqueous inkjet equipment can also be purchased to suit a target market like direct mail, transactional, transpromo, book or commercial-type quality. It is also composed of three main parts. Like the toy, the machine, maximum print width and the finishing equipment make up the physical appearance of the equipment. Accessories such as inks, paper types, print resolutions and various speed settings are chosen based on the print quality expectation of the printed piece.

Just like Mr. Potato Head, choosing the proper inkjet machine and accessories for your process will create a nicely finished piece.

But, if the wrong pieces are used together, it will cause scary results such as process confusion, production issues, as well as lower image and print quality.

Working closely with the inkjet and finishing OEMs throughout the entire machine spec and purchasing process ensures that they understand your workflow and expected print quality—making putting the proper pieces in place a lot easier.

Researching or looking to integrate high-speed, wide-format, aqueous inkjet printing into your facility?

Talk to the folks at the 2014 Inkjet Summit. Designed as a learning forum, industry print leaders and suppliers will come together April 7-9th, 2014, to collaborate on market changes and to discuss successes and challenges encountered when implementing inkjet technology. Visit for more information. They can help you put the right pieces together.

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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  • Elizabeth Gooding

    Hah! I love this analogy. It sounds simple but it is very important to have a picture of the "Potato Head" theme you are going for before looking at inkjet options. There are so many different features that combine in different ways that you can end up combining a lot of great pieces that just don’t do what you want if you don’t plan ahead. And then in the words of Mrs. Potato Head "Don’t forget to pack your angry eyes!" I’m going to stay tuned for the next installment on "How to make a Mr. Potato Head on your 3-D Printer."