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HP challenges inkjet technology inspired by human eye

September 13, 2012

New technology to prevent clogging of ink aims to save money, but HP claims it already has solutions.

Inside Science reports on the new inkjet technology designed to prevent the clogging of ink in printers using a process inspired by the human eye, but HP claims it already has ways of dealing with ink clogging problems in printers.

The new technology, as reported on by The Recycler in July involves the regular application of silicone droplets to ink nozzles in order to keep the nozzles and ink moist and prevent clogging, and was inspired by the way that tears are spread onto eyes after each blink, keeping them from drying out.

The co-inventor of the technology, Jae Wan Kwon of the University of Missouri, has emphasised the technology’s potential in saving consumers and businesses money when it comes to buying printer cartridges, pointing out that replacing cartridges is the most expensive aspect of printer ownership. Kwon claims that “it can be used on any kind of inkjet printer out there at low cost, and it works just as well on the larger printers”, and added that “the oil drop can be used on any kind of print head.”

However, Thom Brown, a supplies expert at HP claimed that the OEM already takes steps to stop ink from drying out “such as cartridge design, ink chemistry, careful selection of ingredients, printer design, and servicing algorithms.”

“Additionally, HP printers are equipped with a physical cap to prevent the ink at the print head from drying out while the printer is not in use. Under normal wear and use this design performs very well to prevent ink drying at the nozzle,” said Brown.

Despite this, Kwon has also discussed the possible benefits of adopting the technology in 3D printing techniques to save money, particularly if 3D printers begin to be used to create human organs using human cells.

“These 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,” Kwon said.

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