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Application: CFD Improves Inkjet Printing
Posted Tue July 17, 2001 @08:40AM
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Application ME Magazine is running an article on Kodak's use of CFD in the development of a MEMS (microelectromechanical system) inkjet printhead.

Current inkjet technology (piezoelectric channel or thermal bubble) limits the overall size of the inkjet array. This makes the technology acceptable for home use, but insufficient for high production office use. Kodak hopes to use MEMS technology to produce a new method of creating inkjet drops which will scale to large arrays.

"The MEMS structures we are developing will control the motion of ink by exploiting its surface properties," Delametter explained. "Heating a fluid meniscus non-uniformly induces a gradient in surface tension. This produces a tangential force, called a Marangoni force, on the liquid free surface. Whenever fluid dimensions are less than 10 microns, thermocapillary-driven forces can separate discrete droplets from the main fluid body and also propel them rapidly through space."

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Using CFD on this project, allowed the Kodak engineers to analyze design parameter changes quickly. In addition, experimental methods fail to capture key quantities at such small scales making it impossible to optimize the design using experiments.
The simulation showed temperature and velocity data that could not be determined experimentally. Computer simulation also let Delametter evaluate several different combinations in less time than it would have taken to build one physical model.
Interesting application - "colorful fluid dynamics" gives back to the color printer.

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