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Automated Print Quality Assessment of Inkjet Nozzle Plates

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We developed a low-cost, highly-automated print quality tool to measure inkjet nozzle misdirection for quality control in the manufacturing process. To minimize cost and improve support, this system needed to utilize off-the-shelf hardware. In this paper we present an approach for measuring inkjet nozzle print misdirection from a reel of inkjet nozzles, prior to final assembly. We define this spatial misdirection as the distance between the ideal and actual printed locations of the nozzles under test. To pass inspection a given nozzle plate cannot have more than a certain number of nozzles that exceed a specified amount of misdirection (e.g., 40 microns). By reducing nozzle misdirection we can significantly improve print quality. We also measured additional print quality primitives, including dot area and print swath height expansion and contraction. This tool has allowed for further refinement in manufacturing processes, which has led to continual improvement in misdirection and other low-level primitives, as well as a further decrease in the nozzle misdirection tolerances used to determine whether a given nozzle plate passes or fails. This has led to reduced manufacturing costs, as an entire reel of nozzle plates can be rejected prior to final cartridge assembly if it is determined to be out of specification.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • For more than 25 years, NIP has been the leading forum for discussion of advances and new directions in non-impact and digital printing technologies. A comprehensive, industry-wide conference, this meeting includes all aspects of the hardware, materials, software, images, and applications associated with digital printing systems, including drop-on-demand ink jet, wide format ink jet, desktop and continuous ink jet, toner-based electrophotographic printers, production digital printing systems, and thermal printing systems, as well as the engineering capability, optimization, and science involved in these fields.

    Since 2005, NIP has been held in conjunction with the Digital Fabrication Conference.

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