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How CIJ printers work and what are they used for?

How CIJ printers work and what are they used for?

Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) printers are renowned for their speed, reliability, and versatility. From coding and marking on food packaging to labeling pharmaceuticals, CIJ printers play a crucial role in various industries. But how exactly do these sophisticated machines operate? Let's delve into the intricate workings of CIJ printers.

The Basics of CIJ Printing

CIJ printing is a non-contact printing method where droplets of ink are expelled from a nozzle at high frequency to form characters and patterns on a substrate. This technology is ideal for printing on a wide range of surfaces, including paper, plastic, glass, and metal. Here's a step-by-step breakdown of how CIJ printers work:

  1. Ink Droplet Formation

At the heart of a CIJ printer is the ink system. Ink is stored in a reservoir and pumped through a high-pressure pump to the print head. The print head contains a small nozzle, typically 50-80 microns in diameter, through which the ink is expelled. An electrically charged piezoelectric crystal vibrates at a high frequency (often around 100,000 times per second), breaking the continuous stream of ink into tiny, uniformly sized droplets.

  1. Droplet Charging and Deflection

Once the ink droplets are formed, they pass through an electrostatic field created by a charging electrode. This electrode imparts a precise electrical charge to each droplet based on the print data. The charged droplets then travel through a pair of deflection plates, which generate an electrostatic field that deflects the path of the droplets. The amount of deflection depends on the charge on each droplet and determines where the droplet will land on the substrate.

  1. Ink Recovery and Recirculation

Not all ink droplets are used for printing. The unused, uncharged droplets are collected and recirculated back into the ink system. This process ensures minimal waste and efficient use of ink. The recovered ink is filtered and reconditioned to maintain its properties before being sent back to the print head.

  1. Substrate Printing

The deflected droplets form characters and images as they hit the substrate in a precise pattern. CIJ printers are capable of high-speed printing, making them ideal for applications where products move rapidly on a production line. The non-contact nature of CIJ printing allows it to be used on delicate or uneven surfaces without causing damage.

Advantages of CIJ Printing

CIJ printers offer several benefits that make them a popular choice in various industries:

  • Speed: CIJ printers can operate at high speeds, making them suitable for fast-moving production lines.
  • Versatility: They can print on a wide range of materials and surfaces, including porous and non-porous substrates.
  • Durability: The printed codes are durable and resistant to environmental factors such as moisture and temperature variations.
  • Minimal Maintenance: With continuous ink recirculation and advanced filtration systems, CIJ printers require minimal maintenance and can operate for extended periods.

Applications of CIJ Printing

CIJ printers are used in a multitude of industries for various applications:

  • Food and Beverage: Printing expiration dates, batch numbers, and barcodes on packaging.
  • Pharmaceuticals: Labeling medications with lot numbers and expiration dates.
  • Cosmetics: Marking packaging with product information and batch codes.
  • Electronics: Printing serial numbers and regulatory information on components.


Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) printers are a marvel of engineering, offering a reliable and efficient solution for high-speed industrial printing. Their ability to print on diverse surfaces and in challenging environments makes them indispensable in modern manufacturing. Understanding the intricacies of how CIJ printers work highlights the sophistication behind the technology that ensures accuracy, speed, and durability in everyday applications.


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