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FUJIFILM Dimatix Introduces Breakthrough Variable Drop Jetting Technology

Press release from the issuing company

Orlando, Florida; February 2, 2007 -- FUJIFILM Dimatix, Inc. today introduced a breakthrough in ink jet imaging for print production with its announcement of an advanced, variable-drop jetting technology here at the IMI 16th Annual Ink Jet Printing Conference. The company's patented new VersaDropT jetting technology takes advantage of the inherent high frequency response developed by FUJIFILM Dimatix that enables each of several hundred nozzles in one or more piezoelectric printhead arrays to deliver a desired amount of fluid in each drop of ink. Available later this year in FUJIFILM Dimatix's SpectraT M-Class printheads and jet modules, the new variable jetting capability can be exploited by systems builders to offer end users unprecedented flexibility in printhead operation and product design. By varying the size of the drop fired, rather than the number of drops fired or the number of passes by the printhead to create each pixel, VersaDrop technology makes it possible for ink jet systems to satisfy a wide range of commercial print requirements, including applications demanding fine tonal gradations and crisp 4-point text printed within the same job. In addition, the ability to precisely modulate the size and shape of individual ink drops, and accurately place them, gives the new VersaDrop jetting technology the ability to produce smooth tonal variations and extremely fine features. It also offers a more robust solution compared to competitive grayscale methods for modulating drop size by producing a single drop at high speed rather than a burst of drops at significantly slower speeds. "The development of VersaDrop jetting technology and its application to our SpectraT M-Class printheads and jet modules adds a new dimension to the significant gains in ink jet performance and reliability FUJIFILM Dimatix has already achieved in accelerating the use of ink jetting across a broad range of markets and applications," said John Batterton, president and CEO, FUJIFILM Dimatix, Inc. "By taking full advantage of our proprietary silicon-based MEMS printhead to deliver precision variable-drop jetting without affecting device throughput or productivity, VersaDrop technology provides unparalleled versatility to systems builders in designing and producing printing products without having to make tradeoffs between production speed and print quality. Now they can achieve products that offer both," Batterton explained. Integration in Spectra M-Class Printheads and Jet Modules FUJIFILM Dimatix is initially integrating the new VersaDrop technology into printheads in its Spectra M-Class product family, each of which is manufactured using the company's proprietary Shaped Piezo SiliconT technology. Shaped Piezo Silicon combines the features and precision of silicon MEMS with drop-on-demand piezoelectric micro-fluidic pumping in a single monolithic structure with sub-micron accuracy. More precise control over nozzle shape and absolute position permits the high drop placement accuracy. The silicon construction also lends itself to reliable operation and long service life. M-Class printheads and jet modules support multiple fluid types including UV-curable, organic solvent and aqueous ink formulations. M-300/10 Jet Module features 304 nozzles spaced in a single row of jets at 180 nozzles per inch with a nominal 10-picoliter native drop size. Jetting velocity is approximately 8 meters per second with 10-centipoise inks, using a drive voltage of less than 30 volts. Highly Versatile Technology VersaDrop technology takes advantage of the inherent high frequency response of FUJIFILM Dimatix MEMS-based ink jet designs to offer flexible and versatile printhead operation. The defining characteristic of VersaDrop is the non-resonant excitation of the piezoelectric element using multiple waveform segments with variable amplitude to pump metered amounts of ink into a single drop before the ligament detaches from the nozzle. This capability can be exploited to produce variable size drops and accommodate a broader range of jetted fluid properties with no compromise in jetting productivity. "A remarkable aspect of VersaDrop technology is the flexibility that can be achieved when applied to the silicon-based MEMS design of the M-Class jet module," remarked Andreas Bibl, CTO, FUJIFILM Dimatix, Inc. "The precision of the MEMS design allows each channel to be addressed individually and each ink drop to be tuned independently. This means that one or any number of channels can be programmed to behave quite differently, and on every firing cycle if necessary. For example, one channel might be called upon to fire a 10-picoliter droplet, while one adjacent channel fires a 30-picoliter drop and the other produces none at all," Bibl explained. Grayscale Through Variable Drop Sizes At High Speed In the simplest implementation of VersaDrop technology, all the nozzles of an M-Class printhead or jet module could be programmed to fire the same size drop on every cycle, to handle a wide range of generic printing applications. (However even in this instance, the machine designer has latitude in selecting whether the constant drop size will be 10 picoliters, 30 picoliters or some amount in between.) Beyond adjustable binary jetting modes, the new technology is capable of supporting grayscale applications. For example, any number of channels can be programmed to fire different size drops under program control, to print specific components on particular pages requiring more tonal expression or higher resolution - while operating at the machine's rated speed. In addition, products using the new variable-drop jetting technology can be designed with single M-300/10 jet module or entire printhead arrays.