Xaar has released a new Irix printhead on its ImagineX platform. There are two versions, the Irix Core and the Irix Pro, the latter having been developed with 3D printing in mind for oil or solvent based inks.

XaarAcuDrp technology improves drop placement by the printhead which has been designed to print consistently with a wide range of fluids with uniform drop speed and volume. In addition, the head is robust, reliable, easy to integrate, compact and light, according to the firm with “simple fluid and electrical connections”.

The Irix is ​​designed to last a long time on many different printing platforms and to form many applications. Graham Tweedale, Managing Director of Xaarthe printhead business unit of, said:

“We are delighted to launch the Xaar Irix as the next printhead for our ImagineX platform. Designed with the user in mind, the Xaar Irix ensures accurate, reliable and easy printing for coding and marking, large format graphics and additive manufacturing applications and delivers efficient, efficient and impressive results, every time.

Xaar is a leader in printheads and has been offering printheads for years, including for High Speed ​​Sintering (HSS) and Selective Absorption Melting (SAF) technology from Stratasys. Xaar wants to sell inkjet heads to other OEMs and then work with them to bring the systems to market. This is different from other companies, as Xaar aims to collaborate and help companies bring new technology to market on top of its inkjet technology platform.

Stratasys and 3D Systems have used inkjet technologies for years, relying on Ricoh and other inkjet heads to print colored and even degraded parts. Today, with HSS and SAF, we see high-yield inkjet technologies come to the fore as HP industrializes and develops its Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) technology around the world. While much of the attention in our market has traditionally been to lasers, stereolithography or powder bed fusion, or fusion deposition modeling, inkjet is an exciting technology for 3D printing.

High speed sintering 3D printing with the Xaar 1002 GS6 printhead

The inkjet industry is huge, with billions of intellectual property created in this market. Millions of inkjet heads are used every day in high reliability applications. Inkjet heads are relatively inexpensive but are backed by decades of research and continuous improvement. They are good at accurately depositing millions of drops on a surface. This means that they are perfectly suited as a central aspect of 3D printing technology.

Until now, Stratasys Polyjet has always been considered rather esoteric, until recently when it found its niche in medical models and other applications that use its ability to create parts of color and degraded. Color Jet (Zcorp) parts have always been a nightmare to work with and produce, although developments in technology by 3D Systems to establish its own Multi Jet printing have led to niche technology. Now, for the first time with MJF / HSS and SAF, we see inkjet heads being used as a ram for a full-scale assault on the stronghold of powder bed fusion.

Stratasys’ new SAF technology includes the use of a counter-rotating roller, which coats layers of powder on the print bed and applies an absorbent fluid, which images the layers of the part. These imaged layers are then fused together when an infrared (IR) lamp is passed over the entire print bed. These processing steps are performed in the same direction across the bed to ensure a consistent consistency and thermal experience for all parts, regardless of their location in the construction. Image courtesy of Dyemansion.

It will take time for these technologies to establish themselves and penetrate the market. People in our industry are naturally suspicious of anything new now, so they wait to change until they absolutely have to. But it seems that, by being less costly per part, MJF and HSS / SAF, being higher efficiency, are a choice for many people in the industry to consider. This should lead to a lot more companies turning to inkjet heads in 3D printing. There are still no desktop inkjet machines and few techs use it except the aforementioned ones and RIZE 3D.

The Xaar Irix inkjet printhead. Image courtesy of Xaar.

The impact of inkjet on our market has been limited so far. But, it should be a technology that more people should be looking at. I think that by relying on the inkjet, we could develop very interesting technologies of bio-printing, polymer 3D printing and even indirect metallic 3D printing. Inkjet is difficult to use initially and the learning curve is steep, but ultimately it could also be a path to many more exciting surfaces and potentially color options.

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