Konica Minolta Announces Next Generation High Resolution, High Speed MEMS Printheads

Ron Gilboa
Jul 27, 2015

Konica Minolta, a long time innovator in inkjet technology with over 30 years of experience, has released information on a new generation of print heads aimed at the evolving graphic arts, industrial, and functional printing markets. These printheads have resolution as high as 1,200 nozzles per inch (npi), drop size as low as 3 picoliters, jetting frequency of up to 100 kHz, and a physical size that is significantly smaller than the previous generation of Konica Minolta heads. As with many print head manufacturers Konica Minolta is manufacturing these printhead using Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) fabrication. Konica Minolta’s high precision printhead is capable of jetting of a range of inks and functional materials such as resins. These new capabilities will enable innovative new products in a range of industries. Konica Minolta expects to begin mass production of these heads in the spring of 2016.

Main features of the new heads include:

High-density nozzle arrayThe new printhead design includes 1,024 nozzles arrayed in three rows that are offset slightly from each other to enable high print resolution and high nozzle density. This compact and multi-row design is key to enabling high resolution printing. Typically, to get similar print resolution with single channel print heads, you must array multiple print heads in a staggered formation to achieve the same result. This is costly and technically challenging. This new compact design enables the use of these print heads in small systems targeted at high precision manufacturing such as printed electronics as well as wide-array systems where less print heads are required to achieve wide print widths while still maintaining high print resolution and strong output quality.

Konica Minolta MEMS Fabricated Inkjet

Konica Minolta MEMS Fabricated Inkjet

Improved ink resistance and viscosity range– The new heads have improved resistance to corrosion and any adverse impact from the ink or materials chemistry. Konica Minolta believes that these heads are capable of reliably jetting materials and inks ranging from low-viscosity inks (aqueous inks) to high-viscosity inks (including UV and solvent inks). This is a critical element for the reliability and productivity of systems enabled by these print heads.

 

Konica Minolta Printhead Specifications

Konica Minolta Printhead Specifications

This new printhead platform will help Konica Minolta to grow its position in existing and emerging digitally-enabled applications. With high resolution, small drop size, and greater nozzle density, these heads will enable a range of new applications in commercial printing, packaging, textile printing, and functional material deposition. In the past few years Konica Minolta and its partners have developed a range of products using Konica Minolta heads. These include, for example, the MGI JetVarnish 3D for adding value to printed pages through dimensional printing; the Anderson COJET aimed at UV printing on industrial surfaces such as wood and laminates;  Konica Minolta’s own Nassenger textile printers, and the B2-format KM-1 for cut-sheet commercial and folding carton packaging printing.

Konica Minolta new MEMS printheads

Konica Minolta new MEMS printheads

InfoTrends Opinion

For several decades now, inkjet technology has been considered a change agent with the potential to revolutionize a broad range of industries across graphic arts, industrial, and functional printing markets and having an impact on applications such as documents, packaging, ceramic tiles, flat glass, laminates, textiles, printed electronics, and 3D printing. At the center of this trend is the ability to precisely deposit material in a manner that yields consistent output over a range of applications. Konica Minolta has been a manufacturer of these piezo electric print heads for decades and with this new platform they join other manufacturers (such as Epson, Fujifilm-Dimatix, HP, Kodak, and Memjet) that are manufacturing inkjet heads using MEMS techniques. MEMS manufacturing processes, as well as robotic-aided assembly, enable Konica Minolta to produce smaller, faster, reliable, and higher resolution print heads more cost effectively. These are the key building blocks needed to transform the print market from a mass production model to mass customization of digitally enabled products. InfoTrends estimates that the markets and applications that can benefit from this transformation are greater than $1.5 trillion in value (of which print, decoration, or functional deposition plays a crucial role). This announcement by Konica Minolta provides additional evidence inkjet technologies are transforming the printing and deposition markets

 

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