PrecisionCore is a next-generation inkjet printing technology created by Epson. It achieves excellent image quality even as it greatly boosts print speed. In addition, it significantly expands the range of inks that can be used and materials that can be printed. PrecisionCore was created by merging high-precision MEMS fabrication processes, thin-film piezoelectric (TFP) technology, and more with Epson's inkjet technology and experience accumulated over many years. PrecisionCore technology brings inkjet printing to a new level.
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Digital printing with inkjets in recent years has focused attention on on-demand printing and a wide range of applications. Inkjets are increasingly serving in many types of industries and uses.
To give one example, conventional analog printing, often in the form of offset printing, requires a printing plate to be made. That takes additional time and cost. With people's needs changing faster every year, there is a growing demand for small-lot, high-mix printing. Digital printing with inkjets is growing correspondingly since no printing plate is needed. The shift from analog to digital printing with inkjets is already underway in certain fields where the supply cycle is short and there is a great deal of variety: photos and proofs, signs and posters, textiles, and labels. With no need for printing plates, digital printing can fill on-demand orders and users do not need to worry about inventory. Every print job can be easily customized and quickly supplied.
Printing nowadays offers both high speed and quality, while inkjets supply excellent color reproduction, efficiency, a wide range of applications, and environmental advantages. The shift to inkjet printing is even happening in the office, where laser printers have long dominated, and also in commercial and industrial printers.
PrecisionCore is leading-edge inkjet printing technology. It meets these needs for inkjet printing while breaking open new markets. In addition to serial head printing, PrecisionCore supports linehead printing, which allows all sorts of printhead configurations so users can respond flexibly to different applications. PrecisionCore also supports a wide variety of inks and media. The adaptability of the technology ensures fast printing with outstanding image quality for consumers, offices, and commercial and industrial printing.
PrecisionCore MicroTFP print chip
PrecisionCore was created by merging high-precision sub-micron MEMS fabrication processes, key component technology forming piezoelectric elements as thin as one micrometer (0.001 millimeters), and more with Epson's inkjet technology and experience accumulated over many years. The PrecisionCore MicroTFP print chip, the next-generation print chip that is the basic module of the printhead, delivers blistering-fast inkjet printing with excellent image quality.
TFP technology makes it possible to form uniform, homogeneous piezoelectric element films just one micrometer thick on top of a silicon wafer. Epson's proprietary crystallization technology makes it possible to form high-quality ceramic crystals with stable orientation by sintering. TFP actuators made by this technology are thin with a homogeneous crystal structure, ensuring uniformly high displacement. The amount of displacement is about double that of conventional systems.
MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems) fabrication processes are one of the core technologies supporting PrecisionCore. MEMS fabrication technology integrates mechanical components and elements, sensors, actuators, electronic circuits, and more on a single silicon substrate, glass substrate, or organic material, all with sub-micron precision. Epson uses its MEMS fabrication processes with industry-leading precision to form the elaborate TFP actuators, ink channels, and nozzle plates that make up the PrecisionCore printheads.
Two characteristics of piezoelectric elements are that they change shape in response to an applied voltage and that as they change shape, they produce a voltage. The nozzle self-diagnosis system uses these characteristics of piezoelectric elements as a sensor. It can determine whether the nozzle is ejecting normally and whether bubbles are forming that could prevent ejection. It looks for potential problems caused by rising ink viscosity. Detection time is measured in thousandths of a second, making self-diagnosis instantaneous.
Epson also tapped in-house robot technology that originated on our automatic watch assembly lines. Now developed into ultra-precise robotics technology, it is used on our PrecisionCore MicroTFP print chip automation line. These many Epson technologies working together give PrecisionCore both excellent quality control and stable productivity.
PrecisionCore technology is changing inkjet printing fundamentally. PrecisionCore printheads offer more than double the resolution of earlier Epson piezo printheads. Fast printing with high image quality is possible because ink droplets are deposited in precisely the amounts and locations needed.
PrecisionCore printheads fire up to 50,000 ink droplets per second from a single nozzle hole. In addition, by precisely controlling the voltage applied to the piezoelectric elements, the volume of ink ejected can be controlled. Technology that selectively ejects ink droplets of different sizes from a single nozzle realizes variegated printing with outstanding image quality. Curves come out smooth, small letters stand out in sharp relief, and even gradations and shape fills are rendered beautifully.
In addition, the mechanism and ejection performance provided by the piezoelectric elements ensure that the PrecisionCore printheads are compatible with a wide variety of inks, including water-based ink, eco-solvent ink, UV-curable ink, and others.
PrecisionCore technology is taking inkjet printing from the simple act of putting ink on paper to a whole new level beyond mere printing. With their large number of ink options, for example, PrecisionCore printheads can fashion circuit patterns with conductive ink or construct OLED panels or thin resists, so there is plenty of potential in the electronics field. In addition, Epson is partnering with outside parties that have new ideas and technologies, for such applications as biotech (bioprinting and drug discovery) and food products (decoration and flavoring). With such open innovation, the possibilities of PrecisionCore technology are unlimited.