Diversity of industrial inkjet printing

At the end of July, Seiko Instruments invited visitors to the Open Week in their new demo centre in Neu-Isenburg, Germany, together with their partners, devoted themselves extensively to the umpteenth facets and possibilities of industrial inkjet printing. There were a lot of discussions about holistic solutions, the challenge of the perfect interlocking of all relevant components for a perfect customised industrial inkjet application.

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After the forced break due to the COVID-19 restrictions, Seiko Instruments could finally open its new demo centre and laboratory in Neu-Isenburg for customers and other interested parties. Last summer, Seiko Instruments decided to relocate its demo centre and laboratory from France to Germany. In Neu-Isenburg, near Frankfurt am Main, the company now has the optimal premises and equipment to be able to comprehensively demonstrate the diversity of its industrial inkjet solutions.

Of course, due to the pandemic, the classic opening ceremony in autumn last year was cancelled, but there was now enough time with selected, competent partners from the areas of ink development, drying and printing and integrators to demonstrate a wide range of applications, to set up machine configurations that give visitors an insight into the extensive potential of industrial inkjet printing based on the high-performance Seiko Instruments printheads.

Serving diverse purposes

Seiko’s printheads serve a wide variety of purposes, including ceramic tiles, heavy textiles, home textiles, apparel, wood, glass, corrugated, high-speed marking and coding, labelling, coating,signage, and additive manufacturing (3D). Robust and highly accurate, they enable the most flexible printing directions – downwards, vertical and horizontal.

During the Open Week, 12 different printing stations for packaging, textiles, ceramic, wood, coding and marking were on display, printing with oil, UV and water-based inks, depending on the application, as well as UV and water-based varnish printing. But the configurations shown here were only meant to be a creative push to show what is possible. Seiko was also keen to take the opportunity to talk to end-users

The many discussions on site impressively showed that personal contact is indispensable. Therefore, Seiko was also pleased about the positive response to the Open Week, whose invitation was accepted by around 150 people from over 60 companies and 12 different countries.

Fields of expertise

Traditionally, Seiko Instruments has been particularly successful in the fields of ceramics and coding and marking. In the field of ceramic printing, Seiko has been established for many years with the RC1536 recirculation printhead series and has a market share of 35 to 40 percent. It is assumed that this market is almost saturated as there are hardly any machines left in this segment that do not produce digitally.

At the moment, however, many old machines are being replaced by new, more powerful lines, so that there is currently a noticeable increase in investment in this area. Seiko naturally wants to be the supplier of choice here, and with its innovative inkjet printhead technology, which is now even more robust and industrial, Seiko is very well placed to ensure that customers will also prefer its technology for their re-investments and that new customers can also be won in this area.

The first market segment Seiko Instruments entered in Europe was the coding and marking segment. Here, Seiko is very proud to have the only inkjet printhead that can print horizontally at a distance of 2 to 3 cm. This is possible because the ink drops have the mass and stability and are ejected with appropriate pressure to generate clearly outlined, precise dots. This is truly a USP.

Another important market for Seiko is corrugated digital single pass printing. Here, Seiko has a very high market share, as their customers were the first to bring such applications to the market. Of course, several other manufacturers have announced solutions for this segment that are not based on Seiko printheads. But Seiko is convinced that it will continue to play a leading role in this market, because its printhead technology offers numerous advantages for printing on cardboard.

Cardboard boxes are very wavy, very light and need to be handled accordingly on the conveyor belt. In addition, the production environment in this market is usually very dusty—all factors that the powerful and insensitive RC1536 easily masters due to its robust design. This versatile printhead covers a wide range of inks and fluids. The constant ink flow within the circulation structure removes air bubbles and contaminants and prevents sedimentation of inks with large pigments. The high flow rate within the circulation structure ensures that the ink is constantly moving at high speed immediately behind the nozzles. This automatically regenerates the nozzles and prevents deposits, eliminating the need for routine nozzle cleaning during operation and significantly reducing ink consumption. Ink is constantly circulating, eliminating the need for pre-filling or flushing before printing.

Next step

It goes without saying that the exceptional technology of the printheads will also be made available in other market segments. The next step is certainly the coatings segment. The application of an even layer on a large surface can be realised relatively easily in a professional manner with Seiko printbars.

The biggest challenge is certainly to find the appropriate ink formulation for the requirements of the different industries. Special applications in inkjet printing require the seamless interlocking of all relevant components and parameters, that means the ink, the printhead, the drying device, the electronics and the ink system, like the gears of a clockwork. But once this is realised, it delivers efficient and flexible printing results at the highest level.

Perfect platform

Whether a customer is already an experienced user or a complete newcomer, the requirement is always to be able to fall back on the necessary industry-specific technical know-how so that digital printing can be optimally adapted to the respective area of application. The best printing results are achieved when problem solutions are considered holistically, objectively and purposefully, based on trust and cooperation. And to ensure that this is exactly the case, Seiko has created the perfect platform in Neu-Isenburg with its demo centre and especially with the Open Week.