For large-scale production operations, a high-power industrial printer is a must. Depending on the specific product being made, manufacturers often need to label their products with a combination of QR codes, expiration dates, batch numbers, barcodes, and other important markings, ideally at fast speed. To meet this need, many industrial enterprises utilize continuous inkjet (CIJ) printers on their production lines. Optimized to handle the volume and speed of high-output operations, CIJ printers are workhorse machines that are designed for high-quality printing, 24/7.
At the same time, these machines are also known to require professional installation and routine maintenance to be able to be dependable and at their best at all times. To illustrate why this expert care is a necessity, this article will explore the basics of how to set up a continuous ink supply system, as well as where on a manufacturing line a CIJ printer will work best.
How CIJ Printers Work
Before diving into the installation process, let’s quickly explore how CIJ printers work. Per their name, CIJ machines discharge ink in one continuous stream to encode a substrate. This ink originates from two tanks within the printer, one containing the ink itself and the other containing solvent or make-up. These two substances are fed into one larger, pressurized main tank where they are combined and pumped out to the nozzle.
What happens in the nozzle is the truly amazing part. Here, the ink particles are given an electric charge that allows their path to be bent as they are sprayed out, thus forming the desired image. Any ink remaining after the expulsion is collected and returned to the main tank for further use.
Due to the continuous operation of CIJ printers, they do require routine maintenance to stay dependable and working perfectly. Additionally, to sustain a high print quality, periodic filter swaps and fluid change-outs are required. All of this adds up to a need for regular attention from trained technicians for peak performance.
Now that we know how they work, let’s look at what it takes to install a system like this.
How to Set up a Continuous Ink Supply System
As with most technological equipment, CIJ printers will operate slightly differently based on make and model. This section will be focusing on how to install a DuraCode industrial, CIJ printer as an example case of how to set up a continuous ink supply system.
The installation process begins with setting the two tanks (ink and solvent) into their proper places. If set properly, the computer interface will acknowledge the tanks by displaying two cartridge icons listed as being 100% full. Next, the air valve must be opened and the plunger needs to be removed. These steps allow the mixer tank to be filled with a combination of the ink and solvent, a task completed by selecting “fill mixer” under the “ink system” menu on the computer interface. This filling requires around 30 minutes to complete.
Once the filling cycle has completed, the screen will state “fill mixer success,” indicating that you are ready for the next step: purging the air out of the system. This is done by selecting “exhaust air” on the interface, removing the plastic sleeve from the exhaust pipe, and placing the pipe into a wastebasket until the air is fully purged, which takes around five minutes to complete.
After the exhaust process has been completed, the system will indicate that the printhead is ready to be cleaned. During this cleaning, the nozzle, plates, and gutter must all be washed with solvent. Finally, once all of these parts have been cleaned, and if all of the above steps were followed correctly, the CIJ printer will be ready to operate.
For a video demonstration of this installation process, click here.
How a CIJ Printer Can Benefit Your Production Line
In addition to their ability to tackle high-speed, high-output manufacturing operations, one of the major strengths of CIJ printers is their versatility. Due to the accuracy of the oscillating output and the flexibility of the printhead, these machines are able to encode curved packages, such as glass bottles and aluminum cans, as well as flatter surfaces such as plastic bags, wrappers, and films. For companies that utilize multiple packaging options in their operations, this adaptability is a huge advantage and is why CIJ printers are commonly used by:
The food and beverage industries to place packaging dates on products.
The electrical component industry to place serial codes on parts.
The pharmaceutical industry to place expiration dates on boxes.
If you’re looking for a machine that can reliably place a range of codes on a number of different substrates in a high-output facility, the CIJ printer is right for you.
We’re Here to Support You
While CIJ printers are exceptional machines that can deliver high-quality printing at very fast speeds, naturally, they will need a bit of care in terms of maintenance and installation.
So, the real answer to, “how to set up a continuous ink supply system,” is to simply speak to an expert.
Here at InkJet, Inc., our team is not only able to help you install one of these machines, but we’re also available to speak with you about your production needs to ensure that you find the perfect devices for your unique operation. Additionally, if you’re ever unsure of how to encode a certain surface or you're searching for a custom ink, we offer guidance and validation services to get you on the right track.