Meteor Inkjet, which specializes in developing electronics and software to drive industrial inkjet printheads, has launched a software solution, MetCal, that it claims will improve the print quality of single pass inkjet printers.
Clive Ayling, Meteor’s Managing Director, describes it as a platform that the company will be able to build on, saying: “We plan it as a place to put other applications in.” For now it has been launched with two applications, including Meteor’s own nozzle-out compensation software. This can help identify nozzles that have stopped working and automatically alters the image data to cover that up, as Ayling explains: “The algorithms that we use to detect what data we can’t print because of the missing nozzle, we use those algorithms to work out where we want the data to be printed. These algorithms are configurable so we can adapt the applications around them.”
Ayling says that this approach will work with heads from any vendor, adding: “There are some very high resolution heads where we can’t see much difference because the nozzles are very close together but there are others where it’s hard to hide the missing nozzles. The main market is around the 400 – 600dpi inkjet printing for single pass.”
The size of the ink drops and the position of the missing nozzles does not seem to make any difference to the performance of this solution though Ayling says that it’s too early to say if this approach is better suited to some applications than others, pointing out that its mainly aimed at graphics printing rather than 3D printing.
Meteor, which is based in Cambridge in the UK, is part of the Global Graphics Group so it’s perhaps not surprising that the second application it has added to the MetCal platform is Global Graphics’ PrintFlat technology. PrintFlat needs a certain amount of information, such as which printhead is being used and what colours are being printed, which would normally have to be entered separately. Meteor already knows all this information through its drive electronics so now this can be automatically passed on through MetCal to PrintFlat. MetCal also gains ScreenPro, another inkjet technology developed by Global Graphics, and which works together with PrintFlat to enable OEM’s to remove repeatable artefacts due to variations in performance within a printhead and in the stitch area between printheads. As such, this is a good example of the way that the Global Graphics Group can leverage synergies between the different companies.
Meteor has been using this software for over a year now on a range of projects so that the company is confident enough in its performance to offer it as a final product. MetCal can be used with any system using Meteor electronics and will be included with Meteor’s standard products so that any customer with a Meteor software licence will be able to use it. Ayling says the company is keen to supply it to all its customers because it will help them sell more machines.
He adds: “MetCal addresses long-standing industry issues associated with single-pass printing such as single pixel streaks caused by clogged or failed nozzles, banding due to printhead stitching issues, and streaking or mottling on various substrate types. Customers can now benefit from straightforward printer calibration and dramatic print quality improvement, all integrated into a neat Meteor package.”
It’s available now and there are more details at www.meteorinkjet.com.