Short History of Technology Behind Ink-Jet Printer Cartridges

People buy printer cartridges without ever really thinking about the technology behind the development of the cartridges, although a short step back in history reveals just how amazing the technology is.

Ink-jet printing involves the usage of non-impact printing. It is a type of dot-matrix printing, but without an object hitting the paper as with dot-matrix technology. The ink droplets are sprayed in a specific position on the print surface to create the lettering or image.

The first ink-jet device that broke up a constant stream of ink into droplets was designed during the fifties. It opened the path for the development of the very first chart recorders using ink-jet technology. A decade passed before the introduction of the IBM 4640 ink-jet printer, suitable for normal end-user printing.

Greyscale printing was developed by Professor Hertz in Sweden. The new technology made it possible for modulation of ink-flow in the greyscale we now use when we print in fast-draft or economical modes. The method entailed the variation of the total number of droplets, which made it possible to reduce the density of the colour to create the desired outcome. Although it is also used for fast draft printing, the greyscale technology is advanced enough to be used in standard and photo image quality printing as well. This is what makes it possible to use greyscale printing in high-quality printing of pictures.

As impressive as the above technology is, people also wanted to buy printer cartridges entailing ink-jet technology, where the droplets could be dropped on demand. This technology entails the dropping of ink onto the print media when used in imaging on the print surface. The first of its kind made its debut on the market in the late seventies. In this type of technology, the droplets are jetted using pressure created through the movement of the piezo-electric ceramics. Large scale commercial production started in the eighties. However, the reliability of the printing technology seemed to be a problem, with users experiencing inconsistent print quality because of regular clogging of the print nozzles.

New methods were tested and one such method involved the dropping of ink through an injection from the print nozzle, using technology involving a water vapor bubble. It became known as the bubble jet printing technology. The invention made the production of the print technology more affordable.

Hewlett-Packard, during the same period as the development of the bubble-jet printer by Canon, developed their smart ink-jet technology and introduced their Think-Jet printer during the eighties. The printer also worked on the bubble jet technology, but their technology was exceptionally affordable. The print head could be replaced and this ensured a longer lifespan for their version of bubble jet printing.

Both companies continued to work on their technologies, leading to impressive models that are able to print exceptionally sharp images and prove to be more reliable than the previous technologies. High resolution, low noise and affordability have since been characteristics of their ink-jet printers. Thermal ink-jet printing is now the norm in the home and office, and even commercial applications.

One problem that has persisted throughout the development of ink-jet printing technology is the flow of ink into the grains of the paper. This has made it difficult to get sharp images and the companies worked effortlessly to promote better media, such as gloss paper, to minimise the spreading of ink over the print surface. They also overcame the problem through solid ink usage, where the ink is jetted in the form of molten droplets. Once the ink comes in contact with the print surface, it becomes solid, minimising the spreading of ink and absorption into the print surface. This has made it possible to get superior quality images. The initial applications were limited to electro-static ink-jet printers, but are now widely used by companies such as Brother and Exxon alike.

Continuous and drop-on-demand ink-jet printers are used throughout the world, and although the printer cartridges are often seen as expensive, the printers are cheaper than laser printers. Fortunately, people can buy original manufacturer and generic compatible printer cartridges at affordable prices from our outlets throughout the country, in order to save on the cost of ink-jet printing.