Wednesday, 13 October 2004 - 1:00 PM

This presentation is part of : Laser Materials Processing: Advanced Applications

Meeting the technical challenge of high volume ink-jet head manufacturing (invited talk)

Peter S. Nyholm, Cary Addington, Qiong Chen, Gregg Combs, Shell Whittington, Curt Nelson, Brett Dahlgren, and Kevin Hulick. Hewlett-Packard Co, 1000 NE Circle Blvd, Corvallis, OR 97330

The past decade has seen a revolution in consumer expectations for personal printing. During this period, the dot matrix printer, a well proven low resolution black and white technology suitable for record keeping and correspondence, has largely been replaced by ink-jet printing. Initially offering a quieter version of the dot matrix printer, today’s ink-jet printer now offers consumers full-color photographs, with performance that matches, and indeed can exceed, conventional silver halide photographic technology. Key to this rapid technological achievement has been the ability to produce consistent ink nozzles with sub-micron tolerance capability in huge volumes. Ink-jet printing requires a print-head with hundreds of nozzles that accurately project individual drops of ink. Laser ablation has played a key role in achieving the accuracy of ink placement on paper that enables such print quality. Ultra-violet laser and plastic film handling equipment has been developed to micro-machine nozzles in the print-head. The nozzles are not only finer than a human hair, but also demand positioning and dimensional accuracy in multiple axes with sub-micron tolerances. The human eye is a critical judge of the ink-jet industry’s ability to consistently achieve this goal – a requirement that is placed on every single nozzle – a considerable challenge considering the billions of individual nozzles that are laser machined every month. This paper presents some of the key technical challenges that HP has faced over the past decade, and how the technology has been developed and adapted to provide one of the world’s most advanced high-volume laser machining capabilities.

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