David Ridealgh, Market Development Specialist at Amazon Filters, attended the IMI Inkjet Ink Development Conference last month. Following the conference, he has shared his thoughts on the conference and the next steps for Amazon Filters.
Having spent my career mainly focused on Life Science applications, I attended this conference with the primary intention of increasing my knowledge of digital printing technologies. The standard of presentations was excellent and most importantly they were technically biased; just what I needed.
The first thing that really struck me, was the complexity of the formulations used and the amount of science that goes behind their development. This jarred somewhat with the rather basic approach that a lot of digital ink manufacturers took to the filtration of the ink during bulk production.
Filtration is often seen as a necessary evil, rather than a process stage that can significantly affect the performance and quality of the ink. This manifests itself in the seemingly common philosophy of trying to minimise filtration costs with potentially undersized systems and resulting high flux rates.
Filtration experience in the Life Science industry has shown that this approach can actually increase filtration costs and also reduce filtrate quality.
High flowrates can lead to premature blockage mid batch resulting in expensive reworking of the product.
High differential pressures and flux rates can also result in the passage of deformable contaminants (e.g. Mycoplasma in Biopharm growth media: Gels in digital ink formulations) resulting in poor final product consistency and quality.
It may also be possible that the high flux and shear rates developed during filtration, are initiating the formation of precipitates in the ink causing premature blockage of filters and the nozzles of print heads.
The presentation I delivered at the conference, highlighted the co-development work of the SupaPleat Plus Ink range of cartridge filters undertaken with an ink manufacturer. The results from showed that the cartridges eliminated jetting problems for the manufacturers end users.
The feedback I received at the conference along with the information gained from the other presenters, has highlighted the next stage is to really understand how best to control the filtration process.
The intention now is to start some scientific studies to better understand the effect of high differential pressures and shear rates during filtration, with the objective of being able to recommend more optimised filtration systems which minimise production costs whilst maximising quality.
The results of these studies will be shared at the forthcoming Ink Jet Conference IJC in October later on this year.