Industrial solutions for
product marking & coding
Industrial solutions for
product marking & coding
Development & manufacture
"Made in Germany"
50 years of experience
in business & industry

Inkjet printers: Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

What is an inkjet printer?

Inkjet printers create a print image by targeted shooting or deflection of small ink droplets through the air between printhead and print surface. Inkjet technology is also sometimes used in (inkjet) label printers.

How does an inkjet printer work?

Various technologies based on significantly different functionalities are used in inkjet printing. Drop-on-Demand printers are used mainly in industrial applications.

Drop-on-Demand (DOD):

Drop-On-Demand printers carry the ink in a chamber in the printhead. Over- and under-pressure waves are generated here and only ink droplets that are actually needed will be ejected through the nozzle. Industry implements this method using two different processes:

Piezo Inkjet (PIJ):

Piezo printers use the piezoelectric effect: Elastic deformation of a piezoelectric material (piezoelectric crystals or ceramics) will create a voltage on its surface. The material vice versa deforms when voltage is applied. The piezo element will momentarily deform the printing nozzle. This will exert a high pressure on the ink to thereby eject an ink droplet from the printhead. To prevent the ink from continuing to flow from the nozzle, the polarity of the voltage on the piezo element is reversed, deforming it in the other direction. This will then retract the ink.

Long printhead service life and extremely fast printing speeds are convincing arguments for piezoelectric printers.

Thermal Inkjet (TIJ):

Ink is normally viscous, with a certain surface tension. This is why it will not be emitted from the cartridge until needed. Thermal inkjet printer cartridges comprise a number of tiny electrically heated chambers in which impulses create steam bubbles. These bubbles will squeeze an ink droplet through the nozzle to accurately deposit it on the print material. The contracting steam bubble will draw more ink from the connected ink reservoir into the chambers for the next ejection, all within 100 millionths of a second.

Thermal inkjet printers (technically also: thermal inkjet coders) print particularly economically, yet fast and accurate.

What are the advantages of inkjet printing?

Weber Marking Systems inkjet printers offer the following advantages:

  • Contactless marking: Since only the ink droplets make contact with the surface, uneven, moving and sensitive products or packaging may also be reliably marked.
  • Changing print text without retrofitting: As opposed to offset or gravure printing, inkjet printers have no fixed printing plate. Variable text, codes, sequential numbers and graphics may therefore be printed at the conveyor without interruption. Information such as time, date or lot number will simply be transferred from a database.
  • Fast printing speed: Depending on the technology, products moving at speeds up to 5 meters per second may be printed on. We have already printed up to 300 changing character sequences per second!
  • Many options for application: A wide range of different types of ink and special accessories qualify our inkjet printers for virtually all applications in industry and on almost all materials.
  • Low cost printing: Inkjet printing may be a cost-effective alternative to labelling – for instance to mark cartons for internal logistics.

What are the criteria when choosing an inkjet system?

Various inkjet systems may be considered, depending on application. The following criteria may need to be evaluated in your selection:

  • Material of the surface to be marked: Surfaces may be classified into absorbent or porous substrates (e.g. carton, wood, paper) and non-absorbent or smooth substrates (plastic, metal, glass). The printer must use inks producing satisfactory results in terms of print image, application and drying time.
  • Inkjet coding size: Inkjet printers are capable of producing various font heights and numbers of printed rows in a single operation, depending on the space available for printed text.
  • Production speed: Standard or high-speed systems are available, depending on how many products or how much packaging (stationary or moving) must be marked per minute. 
  • Print volumes and operating time: Systems with large ink reservoirs reduce the frequency of cartridge exchange and the impact this will have on overall system efficiency. Printers are also available for non-stop production, enabling ink top-up without stopping operation.
  • Mobility and space limitation: Will the printer be stationary or must it be easy to move? Where space is at a premium, particularly compact systems or systems with extended printhead supply lines should be selected.
  • Printhead mounting position: Marking is basically possible from top, bottom or sides. The construction may, however, not allow all printing systems to perform equally well in all positions.
  • Ambient conditions: Rough environments are often found in industry, subjecting inkjet printers to dust, moisture, vibration or strong temperature fluctuations. In addition to a robust design, inkjet printers may therefore require a specific IP protection class or special protection systems.
  • Downtimes: Extended idle periods may cause the ink to dry up or block the inkjet nozzle. Inkjet printers with automatic nozzle covers or automatic printhead rinsing before a stop will avoid this. They will quickly be ready to print again after extended idle times.

What is the difference between laser printers and inkjet printers?

Laser printers as we have come to know them at home or in the office cannot be compared to industrial inkjet printers. They are suited for occasional printing on paper and foils. They operate based on electrophotography or xerography, where a statically charged drum is discharged by guided light beams.

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Weber Marking Systems GmbH

Maarweg 33
53619 Rheinbreitbach
Germany