Every inkjet printer on the market has one thing in common: a print head. Small and large format inkjet printers all feature print heads that deposit ink on all the various types of media. Modern print heads contain chambers that get fed ink and tiny nozzles that spray out ink. Before print heads came around, prints were made on printing presses that made direct contact with the media. The process was often messy and expensive and the presses were very large. Modern print heads don’t touch the media being printed reducing mess and lowering the cost of printing. Inkjet print heads spray the ink onto paper or other media in a controlled manner to produce the desired image.
How Exactly Do Print Heads Work? Are All Print Heads Created Equal?
Though they all do the same basic job, not all print heads are the same. Different manufacturers use print heads with different technology. Currently, there are two main print head types, each using a different method for spraying ink. The two types are Piezo and Thermal. While both are drop-on-demand print heads, the ways they move ink into and out of the print head are different.
Piezo inkjet print heads are currently used in Epson inkjet printers including both their small format and large format printers. Piezo print heads don’t use heat to force ink out of the nozzle. Instead, Piezo print heads feature a layer – usually a thin film – that is exposed to an electric charge that causes the film to vibrate. The vibration causes the film top to flex and bend, building up pressure and forcing the ink from the nozzle onto the paper. Being able to quickly vibrate and flex the film allows for more precise control of how fast the ink gets pushed out of the nozzle.
Piezo print heads are compatible with a wide range of inks since they don’t use heat in the printing process. Compatible inks include water-based, oil, eco-solvent, and solvent-based inks. A typical Piezo print head has 720 nozzles per color which can require multiple.