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Auto-Cleaning System for Inkjet Printheads

Auto-cleaning of ink splashes frees users from troublesome daily servicing.

Background

Industrial inkjet printers required frequent cleaning of inkjet printhead components—ink splashes must be cleaned off nozzles, cap units, and wipers to maintain a normal inkjet printhead discharge. In the past, these were cleaned manually by users.

Figure: Manually cleaning the printhead

Solutions

Ricoh has developed a webbing maintenance unit*1, enabling auto-cleaning of inkjet printheads. None of Ricoh's inkjet printers featured such a unit previously.

*1
Installed on RICOH ProL5160/L5130 and RICOH ProL5160e/L5130e

Figure: Web maintenance unit (CGI)

Movie: Auto cleaning

Technical Highlights

On the RICOH Pro L5160e/L5130e wide-format production printers, the carriage travels in reciprocating motion on a rail. (The carriage is the mounting base for the parts required for printing, including the inkjet printheads and sensors.)

The webbing maintenance unit has a webbing cartridge containing a roll of webbing (unwoven fabric). A cleaning agent is applied to the webbing, and the webbing wipes the nozzles of the inkjet printheads installed on the carriage.

The webbing maintenance unit also features a rubber wiper. The webbing and the rubber wiper clean the inkjet printheads together, helping to keep the ink discharge normal.

Residual ink on the rubber wiper, too, is automatically wiped off by the webbing wiper. This process prevents ink from being deposited onto the rubber wiper.

Webbing pressure on the printhead and the wiping speed has been optimized to ensure stable ink discharge.

Figure: Webbing cartridge configuration

Figure: Operation of webbing maintenance unit

Ricoh's Vision

Ricoh continues to cultivate on its long history of inkjet technology. The auto-cleaning system that maintains proper ink discharge was made possible through the development of the webbing maintenance unit.
Ricoh will continue to improve its maintenance technologies, with the ultimate aim of producing maintenance-free machines.