Star product: IIJ XYPrint 300

Simon Eccles
Monday, September 14, 2015

The XYPrint 300 is the latest stage of IIJ’s fast and flexible inkjet test bed.

What does it do?

The XYPrint 300 is a small inkjet printer, mainly intended as a lab tool for developing inkjet processes, but also suited to very short pilot or production runs. 

It has been built by Industrial Inkjet (IIJ), a 10-year-old Cambridge company that develops bespoke inkjet systems. Although independently owned, IIJ is closely allied with Konica Minolta and exclusively uses KM inkjet printheads. 

The XYPrint 300 is a larger and improved follow-up to the company’s XYPrint 100. 

According to IIJ founder and owner John Corrall, the 300 model is “fast, accurate and very flexible. It’s designed to allow the customer to duplicate any given print process that might be used in an industrial environment. It’s also useful as a low-volume pilot-line or production system.”

It can be fitted with pretty well any Konica Minolta printheads, Corrall says.

When was it launched and what market is it aimed at?

It was launched at Fespa in Cologne during May. The main market is customers who want to develop or test inkjet processes. Typically this includes ink and media suppliers and universities. Corrall adds: “We’ve also found that it’s attractive as a development tool for R&D labs of manufacturers that want to use inkjet, but can’t find an off-the-shelf solution.”

How does it work?

This machine is designed as a flexible test bed that can be changed to suit the user’s needs. The head array is fixed and the substrate moves across the X and Y axes beneath this (an up-down moving Z axis is also optional for 3D or large object printing). Substrates have to be sheets and hand-fed. There are no positioning pins but they could be fitted to order. 

The vacuum bed can hold sheets larger than the A3-plus print area. The head’s X axis movement of 1,200mm is intended to allow UV curing lamps to take effect. “450x300mm is the maximum print area that can be fully printed with the specified max cure-delay,” Corrall explains. “600x300 with reduced cure delay. It’s very common to see something larger than that being printed – either just overhanging the end of the vac-bed or sometimes in a custom chuck.”

A simple syringe-based ink system is standard. It can be set up for aqueous, solvent or UV-cure inks and fluids. There are slots for up to 10 ‘heads’ inline, though the electronics only support eight printheads as standard: typically the other two are used for UV curing lamps. “Most customers end up requesting something slightly custom,” Corrall says. 

Standard features are a granite bed for accuracy and stability; reinforced structure; isolated sub-frame; electronics and software support for eight printheads; all controls mounted externally; single-pass and multi-pass print capability; vacuum pressure control for thin media; UV-impervious enclosure. 

There’s an extensive options list including UV lamps (pinning and full cure, LED or mercury); IR and near-IR lamps; additional heads (up to 16); automatic height adjustment for 3D printing; and plenty more. IIJ also says it is happy to discuss further customisation.

How does it differ from previous models?

Compared to the XYPrint 100 it’s bigger, faster and more accurate. “The ergonomics are also improved,” says Corrall. 

“The XYPrint 300 is faster and more accurate than its predecessors, but perhaps the key is that it’s simply more capable.”

How fast is it?

Product movement speed is up to 1.2m per second. “Its not really about production speed in terms of parts per minute,” says Corrall. “It’s about how many tests you can get done in a day and also about how many different production processes you can duplicate.”

What is the USP?

“I would say ‘flexibility’, says Corrall. “There are other systems on the market but they tend to be limited.”

How easy is it to use?

According to Corrall: “To get a print is easy. To really learn to use the full capabilities of the unit takes time and a degree of commitment.”

What training and support is on offer?

“A very thorough training course and a high level of tech support – including follow-up training,” Corrall says. IIJ provides a remote-access support service. 

How much does it cost?

The starting price is around £90,000 for a basic system, with the price mainly increasing depending on the number of printheads included.

How many are out there?

“We installed around 12 of the previous model, two in the UK,” Corrall says. “The first two XYPrint300 units are already installed, with two more due to ship.” 


SPECIFICATIONS

Scan velocity 0 -1.2m/sec

Scan direction (x axis) adjustment 1,200mm

Step direction adjustment (y axis) 250mm

Z axis adjustments 0-120mm between printheads and vacuum chuck

Absolute accuracy of motion +/- 3 micron

Repeatability +/- 1 micron

Print area A4 vacuum chuck 297mm (x) x 210mm (y)

Print area A3 vacuum chuck 420mm (x) x 297mm (y)

Adjustable full UV cure position 100-600mm

Footprint 2x1.3m (excluding monitor/keyboard support)

Price From around £90,000

Contact Industrial Inkjet 01954 232023 www.industrialij.com


ALTERNATIVES

Fujifilm Dimatix Mercury Development Kit

Mercury is the latest generation of Fujifilm Dimatix’s inkjet development kits. It’s limited to using Dimatix Q-class heads. It includes a choice of printheads, with personality cards, drive electronics, heater control and Windows software. Head mounts are optional. You’ll have to supply your own framework, and media support. Each unit can support up to four 256- nozzle heads, or two 512-nozzle heads. Kits for Samba printheads and Dimatix 512/256/128 heads are also available. 

Printheads Dimatix Q-Class

Number of printheads Two or four

Colours One or four

Footprint 527x425mm

Price POA

Contact Fujifilm Dimatix 07739 863 505 www.dimatix.com

Bespoke alternatives 

The nature of inkjet development means that there’s rarely such a thing as a standard testbed machine. There are plenty of companies that will build you a prototyping framework with electronics, ink feed, printhead mounts and so on. A lot of these at present are intended for 3D print and printed electronics. UK based Xennia used to offer them too, but since its takeover by Sensient it says it is concentrating on inks. 

If you need a bespoke testbed, these companies might be able to help: 

Ceradrop (owned by MGI)

+33 555 382 696, www.ceradrop.fr

Cyan Tec 01865 377885 www.cyan-tec.com

Roth & Rau +31 40 2581 581 www.roth-rau.nl

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