World’s fastest inkjet printer?

The Brother Industries high speed inkjet printer in prototype form. Codenamed Cobra, this little puppy can spit out any size of print output at around 170 pages per minute. OK, you want me to back up and repeat that? Any size of printed inkjet paper output at 170 pages every sixty seconds. Demonstrated for the first time ever last week at a Brother press seminar. How are they doing it?

So apparently the secret lies in the use of new Piezo Inkjet Line Head technology, which prints at 600×600 dpi, but doesn’t actually move at all. The ink is transferred at high speed as the paper passes underneath the static nozzles. (see image below)

Printerhead3 In order to get the throughput, the printer contains a separate head for each colour, so that the paper receives all the ink in one high speed sweep. The passel of assembled journalists at the demonstration last week saw this beast churn out 150 A6 pages a minute without drawing breath, which was pretty darn impressive. (see below right for a scan of the actual printed output)

The company boffins at the demo told us that in order to achieve this speed for larger paper sizes, they just need to connect up more heads in a wider array. For instance, two heads joined together longways would give A4 printing. The concept of poster sized inkjet prints being produced at offset litho printing speeds is little short of miraculous. But just think of the ink costs…ouch!

Apparently this technology also features the lowest power requirements of any inkjet head on the market, and is smaller than equivalent spec products, which should eventually mean good things for home as well as industrial users. Eventually? Well, the technology was first announced at this year’s Cebit exhibition in Germany, but this was the first ever live demonstration to the media, and the company is being very coy on any production dates. In fact it seems that the tech needs some co-operative funding (i.e. a production partner?) in order to progress further. And no word on potential retail pricing was given either.

Brothera6output2So for now the printer is seeing action only at the World Fair in Aichi, Japan, printing out A6 sheets for tourist visitors to the Brother pavilion. Here’s hoping we see more of this amazing technology sooner rather than later. In the meantime here’s a PDF of the technology paper.

Specification Notes.
Head – 2656 nozzles per head, 600 dpi, 108 mm width (4.25 inches).
Print speed : 800 mm per second.
Energy saving: Deformable Piezo actuator provides 1/14 of the power requirement of
conventional nozzles. For example, the A6 picture sample on the right
requires only 3 watts of power, at 150 sheets per minute.
Size : Trapezoidal
nozzle zone shape provides for dense arrangement of cavities. The
result is a head which is 152 mm wide, 22 mm deep and 1 mm high. Heads
can be arranged in longer arrays as needed.
Droplet size : Unspecified. 4 sizes available.
Reliability :  10 billion dots/nozzle or more (still testing).

More details at

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