Human Eye Inspires Clog-free Ink Jet Printer Invented by MU ResearcherJuly 17, 2012
"The nozzle cover we invented was inspired by the human eye," said Jae Wan Kwon, associate professor in the College of Engineering. "The eye and an ink jet nozzle have a common problem: they must not be allowed to dry while, simultaneously, they must open. We used biomimicry, the imitation of nature, to solve human problems."
Kwon's invention uses a droplet of silicone oil to cover the opening of the nozzle when not in use, similar to the film of oil that keeps a thin layer of tears from evaporating off the eye. On the surface of the human eye, eyelids spread the film of oil over the layer of tears. However, at the tiny scale of the ink jet nozzle, mechanical shutters like eyelids would not work, as they would be stuck in place by surface tension. Instead, the droplet of oil for the nozzle is easily moved in and out of place by an electric field.
Kwon said this invention could make home and office printers less wasteful. To clear a clogged nozzle in most ink jet printers, a burst of fresh ink breaks through the crust of dried ink which forms if the machine isn't used constantly. Over time this cleaning operation can waste a large amount of expensive ink. Kwon's invention eliminates the need to waste that squirt of ink.
"Other printing devices use similar mechanisms to ink jet printers," Kwon said. "Adapting the clog-free nozzle to these machines could save businesses and researchers thousands of dollars in wasted materials. For example, biological tissue printers, which may someday be capable of fabricating replacement organs, squirt out living cells to form biological structures. Those cells are so expensive that researchers often find it cheaper to replace the nozzles rather than waste the cells. Clog-free nozzles would eliminate the costly replacements."
Similarly, rapid prototyping systems used by engineers and product designers emit streams of liquid plastic through nozzles like those on an inkjet printer. The thick, sticky liquid used in the devices can make it necessary to replace the whole nozzle when they become clogged. These specialty printer parts can cost thousands of dollars.
MU engineering doctoral student Riberet Almieda worked with Kwon on the oil droplet nozzle cover. A paper documenting the discovery was published in the Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems.
Video of Ink Jet Nozzle in Operation: http://vimeo.com/45838645
University of Missouri
Related Ink Jet Current Events and Ink Jet News Articles
Just hit 'print': Office inkjet printer could produce simple tool to identify infectious diseases
Consumers are one step closer to benefiting from packaging that could give simple text warnings when food is contaminated with deadly pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella, and patients could soon receive real-time diagnoses of infections such as C. difficile right in their doctors' offices, saving critical time and trips to the lab.
Electrochromic polymers create broad color palette for sunglasses, windows
Artists, print designers and interior decorators have long had access to a broad palette of paint and ink colors for their work.
Picture books for visually impaired kids go 3-D thanks to CU-Boulder research team
A children's classic that already is a candidate for the all-time best feel-good book, "Goodnight Moon," has gotten a boost: A University of Colorado Boulder team printed the first 3D version of it, allowing visually impaired children and their families to touch objects in the story -- like the cow jumping over the moon -- as it is read aloud.
Ultrafast heating of water - This pot boils faster than you can watch it
Scientists from the Hamburg Center for Free-Electron Laser Science have devised a novel way to boil water in less than a trillionth of a second.
Invention jet prints nanostructures with self-assembling material
A multi-institutional team of engineers has developed a new approach to the fabrication of nanostructures for the semiconductor and magnetic storage industries.
Disorder can improve the performance of plastic solar cells, Stanford scientists say
Scientists have spent decades trying to build flexible plastic solar cells efficient enough to compete with conventional cells made of silicon.
Virginia Tech engineers explain physics of fluids some 100 years after original discovery
Sunghwan Jung is a fan of the 19th Century born John William Strutt, 3rd, also known as Lord Baron Rayleigh. An English physicist, Rayleigh, along with William Ramsay, discovered the gas argon, an achievement for which he earned the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1904.
Bubble study could improve industrial splash control
For the first time, scientists witnessed the details of the full, ultrafast process of liquid droplets evolving into a bubble when they strike a surface.
Silver nanocubes make super light absorbers
Microscopic metallic cubes could unleash the enormous potential of metamaterials to absorb light, leading to more efficient and cost-effective large-area absorbers for sensors or solar cells, Duke University researchers have found.
Penn Researchers Make Flexible, Low-voltage Circuits Using Nanocrystals
Electronic circuits are typically integrated in rigid silicon wafers, but flexibility opens up a wide range of applications. In a world where electronics are becoming more pervasive, flexibility is a highly desirable trait, but finding materials with the right mix of performance and manufacturing cost remains a challenge.
More Ink Jet Current Events and Ink Jet News Articles