UV inkjet ink technologyDesign and manufacture of high performance inks atFujifilm Speciality Ink Systems in the UK
UV INKJET INK TECHNOLOGYDesigning high performance inkjet inks Rapid advances in inkjet technology Colour continue to change the way print A wide colour gamut is critical to enable is produced. Inkjet is now a viable a printer to accurately reproduce alternative to traditional processes intended colours in the print. Graphics in many wide format, packaging and also need to be vibrant for visual appeal industrial applications. and impact. A key factor in the growth of inkjet in these markets has been the ability to Reliability print with UV-curing inks - a technology Inks must jet reliably, printing high that was pioneered by Fujifilm. quality work for long periods with UV inkjet is a fast growing technology, minimal intervention. set to dominate these markets with its incredible productivity, quality, Consistency application range and versatility. Inks must be totally consistent, Intimate knowledge and experience producing the same high quality images of inkjet development has allowed and colours in every print and between Fujifilm to anticipate and understand the every manufactured batch. performance requirements for inkjet inks and to design products that meet them. Performance Inks must be durable, with properties When designing an ink, Fujifilm carefully such as light-fastness and physical blends a range of cosmetic, functional adhesion tailored to the specific and operational properties, combining application of the finished print. these to produce inks that are formulated for precise applications. Economy Inks must allow printers to run their operations in an efficient and cost- effective manner, providing their customers with high quality print at a reasonable price. Front cover image shows ink drop formation on the journey from printhead to substrate.
UV INKJET INK TECHNOLOGYInk development at the heart of our businessAt Fujifilm Speciality Ink Systems, one The company set a major technologicalof the core skills is ink design, with benchmark during the 1970s when it Pioneering ink development for over sixty yearsan unmatched understanding of ink launched its first instant curing UV inkchemistry, print applications, media, for screenprinting. 1950 Sericol business founded, supplying early screen print consumablesprintheads and UV curing. Fujifilm’s In 1999 it commercialised UV curingdesign capability encompasses R&D 1968 Created the world’s first thin-film inkjet inks that fuelled the world’s firstresources, a legacy of ink formulation solvent inks that made screen UV flatbed inkjet printers created by printing a viable production processand vast manufacturing experience. Inca Digital. Marrying the well-known UV 1978 Launched first UV-curing screen inksFujifilm’s present success stems from benefits with flatbed inkjet technologyits knowledge of several industries, opened a whole new market, one that 1999 Commercialised the first UV digital inkjet inksdesigning inks for screen, narrow grew so rapidly that it won a Queen’sweb and wide format inkjet, and Award for Enterprise for its role in 2005 Sericol acquired by Fujifilmthe experience it has amassed over commercialising the technology. 2007 Launched Onset, the world’s fastestdecades of listening to its customers wide format flatbed inkjet printer at As a pioneer in the field, Fujifilmand providing products to meet their 700m2/hr will continue to invest to stay at thechallenges. 2013 Invested €5m in expansion of digital forefront of inkjet technology - “We ink production facilities launched it: we’ll lead it.” “ Our innovation made UV inkjet a reality.” Dr Carole Noutary Digital Inks Development, Fujifilm Speciality Ink SystemsThe ingredients of world-class Fujifilm UV inkjet ink 60 years industry expertise high quality raw materials research and development investment quality assured manufacturing printhead supplier partnerships proprietary production technology
UV INKJET INK TECHNOLOGYExtending the colour gamut Colour is the most important aspect of an ink. A printer needs a wide colour gamut for faithful reproduction of images and to match spot colours. Prints with rich colour have more impact and are saleable. To produce an ink with strong, vibrant colours and a wide colour gamut is theoretically simple - you just add more of the colouring pigment... ...but the challenges of inkjet are microscopic Each inkjet printhead contains hundreds of ultra-fine nozzles which are just microns wide. Any large particles in an ink can cause Pigment particles blockages in the nozzle or in other parts of the head, resulting stick together in misfiring nozzles or even printhead damage. Printheads can Colour pigment is made up of clumps of cost thousands of pounds and bad prints don’t sell. Also, to pass particles that have to be broken down through the printhead, the viscosity of the ink needs to be low. small enough to pass through an inkjet nozzle. But it’s not enough just to make the pigment clumps smaller because in a low viscosity liquid there is a tendency for the particles to agglomerate or stick back together. Pigments are also subject to gravitational settlement. A printhead at actual size. A printhead nozzle at 2500x magnification (left image) - it is just 25 microns in diameter, half the width of a human hair. Particles that are too large or don’t have the right properties can cause blockages and printhead damage (right image).
UV INKJET INK TECHNOLOGYFujifilm Micro-V dispersion technologyMicro-V is a unique Fujifilm technology This coating gives the particles The benefits of Micro-V dispersion are:that breaks down pigment particles a tendency to repel each other Improved and standardised colourand ensures they are held in stable and therefore prevents pigment managementdispersion in the ink. agglomeration. A molecular bonding agent is used to provide a link between High impact prints with vibrant coloursIt enables high concentrations of colour this dispersion coating and the inkpigment to be effectively dispersed Easier to achieve difficult spot colours binder, or ‘vehicle’, in order to stabiliseand stabilised, resulting in an ink with the pigment particle in the fluid and Perfect colour consistency betweenhigh colour intensity that resists both prevent gravitational settlement. each container of inkagglomeration and gravitational settling- so the ink has high colour strength as After Micro-V dispersion, pigment High pigment strength enableswell as being stable and reliable. particles have an average particle size printing of a thinner ink film so using of less than 200 nanometres - 0.2 less ink and saving moneyA proprietary Fujifilm dispersion microns. They start roughly the size of Inks have a longer shelf-lifetechnology is used to coat the individual a grain of salt and are ground down inpigment particles that are separated High quality pigments provide outdoor size to smaller than a human cell.during the dispersion process. durabilityWhen Fujifilm designs anink, it starts with the colour- the pigment dispersion. 25% The Micro-VThis is combined with Volume processpolymers, oligomers, and grindsother liquid components pigments toto impart the finished ink the optimumproperties and enable it to size forbe cured by UV light. jetting, colour loading and ink stability. 0% 0 0.2 0.3 Particle size μm Ink binder Bonding agent These images at 400x magnification illustrate the quality of the dispersions Dispersion produced by Fujifilm Micro-V dispersion technology against lower quality coating dispersions. Micro-V produces a fine, stable dispersion (left image). The lower quality dispersion is unstable and pigment particles clump together (right image). Pigment
UV INKJET INK TECHNOLOGYThe formula for high quality inkAs inkjet is a true digital process there They consider properties like printedis no opportunity for a printer to make finish, adhesion to the printed material,any adjustment to the ink. This means flexibility and finishing, while controllingthat inks have to work perfectly every particle size, viscosity and surfacetime, even after months in storage, tension to produce inks that jet reliably.and so formulations must meet precise Inks are rigorously tested in theperformance specifications. laboratory and in productionSince the launch of UV inks, and environments where prints are tested forthrough continuous R&D investment, jetting reliability, print quality, productionFujifilm chemists have learned a performance and weathering to ensurehuge amount about UV ink design. they meet Fujifilm’s stringent performanceCombining printhead and performance and quality assurance standards.specifications with in-depth applicationexpertise, they create inks that are Uvijet, one oftailored to a specific application and Fujifilm’s UVoptimised to work perfectly with a ink brands, isparticular printhead. used in some of the world’s most powerful inkjet printers.
UV INKJET INK TECHNOLOGYEvery drop mattersIn theory, inkjet technology is simple.A series of ink drops are jetted froma piezoelectric printhead onto thesubstrate beneath, without any directcontact. Tiny dots of different colouredink make up near-photographicquality images.However, the most powerful wideformat inkjet printers in the world todayuse full-width, metres-wide arrayscontaining hundreds of print heads.They jet billions of drops per second,each directed to a precise location,producing hundreds of square metres ofhigh-resolution print per hour.The demands on printheads and inkperformance are very high, but to jetwell and reliably they must be designedfor each other.Fujifilm Speciality Ink Systems partnerswith printhead manufacturers, includingits sister company, Fujifilm Dimatix,to develop optimum ink chemistryfor specific printheads. As part of thedesign process, the printhead jettingpatterns are tailored to the ink to Fujifilm ink with excellent jetting properties. Inferior ink with poor jetting performance.achieve the best performanceand reliability. These images show ink drop formation on the journey from printhead to substrate. To achieve the best image quality a printer must fire a drop at the print surface to land with pinpoint accuracy and in perfect shape. Only good ink design, tuned to the printhead, makes reliable jetting possible. UV inks are cured almost instantly by a dose of UV light. Photo-initiators in the ink react and cross link, or polymerise, forming a dry film. Because UV ink cures rapidly, printers can work quickly and economically.
UV INKJET INK TECHNOLOGYQuality assured manufacturingFujifilm uses a sophisticated partnerships make sure that raw provides controls over every aspect ofmanufacturing process where the need materials meet an agreed specification manufacture to ensure consistency. Allfor consistent high quality permeates and that suppliers operate appropriate the parameters such as milling and stirthe entire production process. The quality systems in order to maintain times, speeds and temperatures arefundamental aim of this process is to consistency of product and continuity tightly specified and monitored. Vessels,make sure that the product is right first of supply. machines, operators, materials andtime, every time. locations are all bar-coded to record Production of inkjet inks at Fujifilm is specific operations. A final qualityRaw material selection and consistency carried out in a process controlled control process is used to confirm thatare key parts of the process and operation. This recognises the equal key performance parameters are withinFujifilm has established close business importance of both the ink formulation defined limits.partnerships with its suppliers. These and the production process, and The inkjet ink manufacturing process at Fujifilm Speciality Inks Systems. Each stage of the process is managed by quality or process controls. Micro-V dispersion Raw materials Mixing Post processing Filling and packing Quality control Process control Process control Process control Quality control
UV INKJET INK TECHNOLOGYState of the art manufacturing at Broadstairs in the UKIn 2011 the Fujifilm Speciality Ink Systems manufacturing In 2013 Fujifilm made a €5m investment in a new digital inkfacility won the Best Process Plant, “Best Factory Award”. manufacturing plant and upgrade to its already considerableThis independent assessment, judged by Cranfield School R&D resources. The new premises has a footprint of 1800m2,of Management, is testament to the process controls that with the capacity to produce 6000 tonnes of digital ink a year,enable production of Fujifilm’s high quality inkjet inks. keeping Fujifilm at the forefront of UV inkjet technology. Raw materials Fujifilm works in partnership with its raw materials suppliers, ensuring that these materials meet an agreed specification. Micro-V dispersion Colour pigments are dispersed to reduce the size of particles down to less than 200nm – far smaller than a human cell. Fujifilm’s proprietary Micro-V dispersion process takes over 30 hours.
UV INKJET INK TECHNOLOGY Mixing The pigment dispersion is blended with the other components in the formulation in massive, powerful mixing vessels capable of producing 4 tonne batches with automatic raw material feeds. Fujifilm is also expert at small batch production, with hundreds of different products being produced across its screen, narrow web and inkjet ranges. These are produced by the tonne and the manual addition of ingredients is carefully controlled by bar-coding and process control.
Post-processing Automated filling and packingPost-processing is the final part of the Micro-V dispersion To deal with high production volumes the filling and packing process is semi-process and is designed to equalise pigment particle distribution automatic. Inks are packaged in a variety of containers from 250ml RFID taggedwithin the finished ink. This helps to reduce the likelihood of pouches and cartridges up to 10 litre packs for high productivityparticle agglomeration and settlement, optimising jetting reliability. wide format printers.Reducing the environmental impact of ink productionUnderpinning the expansion of theinkjet production facilities is Fujifilm’scommitment to the environment. Ithas invested significantly in alternativemethods of reducing its environmentalfootprint in its next generationmanufacturing site.Reducing energy use‘Waste’ energy in the form of heat fromproduction processes and compressedair generation via a bespoke new heatexchange system is used to provide70% of the heating required for thefactory. In addition, a new boiler plantincorporates modern, high efficiencymodulating condensing boilers that use40% less fossil fuels than conventionalheating systems. Reusing waste ISO accredited 93% of the manufacturing packaging This work has played its part in Fujifilm 7% and production waste is reused, with Speciality Ink Systems being accredited to disposal 70% recycled and 23% going to the Environmental standard ISO 14001, in 70% recycled energy recovery. addition to the Quality standard ISO 9001. 23% energy recovery waste
Looking ahead Like the technology that uses it, inkjet Fujifilm Dimatix is a leading inkjet Fujifilm ink will develop at an ever-increasing head supplier that offers class leading Speciality pace. Whatever the challenges, though, heads, all of which incorporate Fujifilm Ink Systems, UK Fujifilm is uniquely capable of meeting technology. Fujifilm Speciality Ink Fujifilm Fujifilm them head on. Systems produces some of the world’s Imaging Dimatix, USA best inkjet inks. These businesses are Colorants, UK Printheads will continue to evolve with supported by fundamental technology smaller drops jetted at higher frequency development groups including the to address the trade-off between higher he Advanced Marking Research Laboratory a speed and increased print resolution. k in Tokyo, Japan and the Fujifilm in ds Technology must keep pace to meet Cambridge Engineering Facility these demands and will require close in the UK. inte y cooperation between ink companies og Fujifilm’s ability to combine the skills, and head manufacturers. ra ol experience and technology expertise g ti o n n Fujifilm is uniquely positioned to develop within these immensely powerful t e ch tomorrow’s inkjet technology with printhead and ink technology groups head, ink and fundamental technology means it is ideally placed to develop the Advanced Fujifilm Marking Cambridge development available in house. inkjet printing systems of the future. Research Engineering Laboratory, Japan Facility, UK Please contact your local Fujifilm partner or visit www.fujifilm.eu/print For further information: Web www.fujifilm.eu/print YouTube www.youtube.com/FujifilmGSEurope Twitter @FujifilmPrintEU3217/F13 Specifications are subject to change without notice. The name FUJIFILM and the FUJIFILM logo are trademarks of FUJIFILM Corporation. All other trademarks shown are trademarks of their respective owners. All rights reserved. E&OE.