Inkjet droplets

Print edition : April 04, 2014

The high-speed droplets formed by inkjet printers. Photo: Physical Review Applied

ARJAN VAN DER BOS and associates from the University of Twente in The Netherlands have developed a new laser-based technique that can capture high-speed snapshots of microscopic droplets from an inkjet printer.

Inkjet printers work by forming high-speed droplets as small as a billionth of an inch (2.54 centimetres). They are the most common type of printers in the world and may be used in the future to print electronic circuits with conductive inks. Currently, numerical simulations are the main way to improve the design of the printers. These calculations are, however, difficult to experimentally verify because the droplets are only a thousandth of a billionth of a litre and move at several metres per second, too fast to be analysed with most microscopic techniques. The new imaging technique can record inkjet droplet formation with unprecedented spatial and time resolution. This may help scientists test inkjet devices for a broad range of applications.

The work was published recently in Physical Review Applied.