The purpose-built XP-200 prints images and text in a single pass onto items with unusual and often irregular surfaces – from sponge, sandpaper, leather and wood, to circuit boards – as the objects pass under the printhead array at a rate of 200 feet per minute. This is one example of the inkjet systems the FUJIFILM Dimatix Technology Integration (DTI) group designs and builds using FUJIFILM Dimatix standard inkjet printheads and related components for customers whose unique requirements are not addressed by commercially available printer products. Owing to the flexibility of FUJIFILM Dimatix inkjet technology, DTI also is able to install these systems inline at the most optimal point on a manufacturer’s production line.
The XP-200 is based on DTI’s MerlinTM D general-purpose controller and integrated with a standard materials transport mechanism. DTI engineers outfitted it with standard FUJIFILM Dimatix Galaxy printheads clustered into a 4-quad by 4-color array affectionately called “Sweet 16.” The system stands about 8 feet high and 12 feet long, much of it to house a printhead cluster elevator, transport mechanism and UV curing unit. It even features edge detection technology, allowing objects randomly spaced on the transport belt to be printed accurately as they fly under the printhead cluster.
During the many live demonstrations held every day, the XP-200 decorates one set of about 12 different items that together represent a broad range of textures, materials, and types. These sample products are decorated at 400 x 400 dpi with UV-curable process-color inks as they move along a conveyor belt through an integrated UV curing unit at a speed of up to 200 feet/minute then handed out to visitors who have come to Drupa from 127 countries. (The limit of 200 feet/minute is primarily for attendee safety; DTI has built production systems that operate at rates faster than 800 feet/minute.)
“Printing on this diverse range of substrates is the very point of the XP-200 demonstration,” says FUJIFILM Dimatix President and CEO Martin Schoeppler. “Our Inkjet technology is uniquely suited for industrial production to decorate, coat, treat, enhance materials and even to produce conductive traces. DTI’s XP-200 demonstration proves the versatility of inkjet technology in printing on objects and surfaces that wildly exceed ordinary print substrates. We want to show attendee’s what is possible using Dimatix inkjet technology by decorating some outlandish and cool stuff.”
Of all printing processes, only the inkjet process, does not come in contact with the materials being printed, making it both substrate and application independent. Inkjet also uniquely integrates easily into multi-step manufacturing processes. It can be inserted at the most appropriate place in the production line to decorate or pattern materials as they’re formed – even while the object is being extruded and even hot, fragile and malleable.
“Inkjet is a transforming technology – able to make clear pine look like an exotic wood or ordinary leather look like alligator or crocodile hide, add conductivity to a circuit board, or add a corporate logo or marketing message in unique ways. No other process has this degree of versatility,” said Dr. Richard Baker, director, business development.
The Dimatix Technology Integration group was formed as an engineering group within FUJIFILM Dimatix specifically to address customers whose unique requirements were not addressed by commercially available printer products. Today, DTI is staffed by dedicated teams of mechanical, electrical, chemical and software engineers who develop and integrate custom-tailored inkjet solutions based on FUJIFILM Dimatix’ core piezo DOD technology for a broad range of clients, fluids, applications and industries.