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Technology Wanted

Printer Paper Handling Technologies Wanted

Current mechanical mechanisms to move and guide paper through the device can provide small, but noticeable marks on printed images.


We are a leading technological company providing a range of printing solutions. The client is keen to optimise the overall printing experience for the user and has identified a performance issue, whereby current mechanical mechanisms to move and guide paper through the device can provide small, but noticeable marks on printed images. The printers currently use a combination of plastic cylindrical rollers and small, metallic ‘jagged’ (or indented) wheels that simultaneously press down, pull and push the substrate to the appropriate position for printing, interim finishing/converting and eventual storage. Resulting marks include:-

- Mechanical pressure marks / indentations and puncture marks from the metallic wheels

- Smudges / areas where the ink is transferred by the roller across the printed surface

- Dull sections of print where rollers impair the optical quality

Defect marks are particularly apparent as printing quality and speed increases, and applies to printers at the lower price range, where cost of components is an issue (higher value products are able to use the more expensive electrostatic/vacuum movement mechanisms). We are searching for cost-effective components, advanced materials and designs that allow improved handling and control of wet and dry printed substrates (particularly gloss photo papers). Potential solutions include:-

- Materials to permanently modify the roller surface – affect friction / lubricity, increase traction, etc.

- Coatings / films to change the properties of roller materials on demand – i.e. switchable

- Changing shape of rollers / adaptable roller wheels to minimise substrate contact points

- Micro-patterning / modification of surface to selectively increase or decrease friction and traction

- Cost effective technology to allow the instant drying of water-based, high density inkjet inks (without changing the ink composition)

- Air based material handling systems

- Magnetic or other attractive forces (e.g. electrostatic)

All potential solutions should allow:-

 Cost effective components – low price for a large volume application

 Media to be held flat for printing (tolerance of ± 0.1mm) and allow it to be moved vertically and horizontally for subsequent converting and storage

 Use for 0.5m – 1m wide substrates

 Use of a variety of papers (including generic types e.g. recycled, bond, coated and photo media )

 Use at speeds of 4 ips (inch per second) with slight pauses whilst the inkjet head moves across the paper substrate (i.e. not continuous). Paper movement average speeds in the range of 0.2 - 2m per minute

 Use in wide range of environmental conditions ( 15-35°C and 20-80% relative humidity)

 Use with inkjet print heads

We will consider all potential solutions, but have a particular interest in those designed for low cost, small-scale applications – technologies that could be scaled to larger devices are also of interest. Solutions should have identifiable IP and allow clear route for use for client’s application. Those solutions allowing exclusivity for this market and representing a step-change in service will be of key interest.

We have extensive experience in the development of highly complex devices, combining mechatronics, fluid dynamics, ink technology, software, sensors and optical control systems. We are therefore able to provide support for on-going development, testing and funding of potential solutions, but would prefer to engage with a technology partner able to provide complementary technical skills and expertise.

Patents and Intellectual Property

We will consider technology not covered by a patent.