Inkjet Performance: The Dance of the Drops

By: Elizabeth Gooding, President at Inkjet Insight and Co-Author of “The Designer’s Guide to Inkjet”

Inkjet Performance: The Dance of the Drops

Inkjet is advancing into new markets where customers have very high expectations for color and image quality. Making a single pass inkjet press deliver stunning quality requires a precisely choreographed dance to place ink on the page. The two primary dancers are native resolution and drop size. The precision of ink delivery is enhanced when there are more printheads to work with (resolution) and tiny drops that can be controlled to create fine detail (drop size).

Higher resolution inkjet presses can fire more drops and provide exceptional text clarity but, when it comes to delivering top quality with continuous tone images, it’s controlling the smallest drops that takes the lead. The ability to create smaller drops produces a larger range of halftone detail on the media. Using smaller drops improves small text and edge clarity, tonal range and the simulation of continuous tone. The ability to produce very small drops offers a fine level of control over print detail and transitions.

Native resolution is measured in dots per inch, and represents the physical jetting capability of the printhead configuration. Drop volume is measured in picoliters with a range of one to two picoliters representing the leading edge of inkjet development. It’s ideal when these dancers are on a square dance floor where resolution is the same in both the process and cross process direction. The DFE and RIP provide the choreography that allows uniformity and accurate placement at speed. Taken together, this dance of the drops delivers beautiful precision that can meet high expectations in new and emerging print markets.

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About the Author: Elizabeth has a rare ability to see design related issues from many perspectives. She has managed creative teams on complex design projects, selected outsourcers for major brands and helped print organizations to retool operations, focus their market positioning and educate sales teams to accelerate growth. At Inkjet, Elizabeth works with a team of top analysts to translate those experiences into tools, data and content to help print organizations evaluate the potential of inkjet, optimize their operations, work effectively with designers and grow pages profitably. She is also founding member of the Inkjet Summit advisory board and a curious consultant constantly seeking innovative ways to help designers and printers hone their craft and drive new pages onto inkjet presses.