New 600dpi printhead from Kyocera 

Kyocera has announced a new printhead, the KJ4B-EX600-RC, a 600dpi head that features ink recirculation down to the nozzle and is part of the same series as the 1200 dpi KJ4B-EX1200-RC that I’ve covered previously.

Kyocera splits its printheads into two main groups, with the KJ4B name meaning that its suitable for use with water-based inks, as opposed to the KJ4A heads that are designed for UV fluids. As such, this new head is aimed at a range of applications from document printing through to packaging and textiles. 

This new head is part of the new-ish EX generation which all use a unique monolithic piezo actuator. This is a very thin piezo electric actuator plate that measures 116mm long and 34mm wide with a depth of just 0.04mm, which sits above the ink chambers within the head. By precisely controlling the voltage applied to this actuator, through the waveform and drive electronics, Kyocera is able to subtly control the shape of this actuator to eject the ink from each of the ink chambers. I’ve already covered this in more detail with an earlier report

Kyocera’s EX-series printheads use this large, thin monolithic actuator to fire the ink drops.

Kyocera does already sell a similar head, the existing KJ4B EX600, but this latest version gains full recirculation through to the nozzle plate, as the RC in its name indicates. 

This latest KJ4B-EX600-RC does have a number of other improvements over the existing version. Thus the jetting frequency has been increased from 30kHz to 40kHz which means that the standard print speed has risen from 76.2mpm to 101.6mpm. This matches the same speed as the recently announced 1200 dpi KJ4B-EX1200-RC. It can produce a minimum drop of 5pL up to 14pL at 40kHz. It can also produce 18pL drops at up to 30kHz and 24pL drops at up to 20Khz. This gives OEMs a good range of options, giving that the ultimate aim is to get as much of the coloured pigment onto the substrate as fast as possible.

The new head has a print width of 108.3mm with 2656 nozzle in total though only 2560 active nozzles, the same as the existing EX600. However, the new EX600 RC is physically bigger than the older head at 200 x 41.6 x 68.2 mm so won’t be a direct drop-in replacement. 

Otherwsie, the new head benefits from the same overall architecture as the rest of the EX-series. The ink flow paths are built into a stack of stainless steel sheets laminated together, which gives good chemical resistance and makes for a robust design. Filters within the flow path aim to catch any unwanted elements in the ink.

There’s a heater within the head, as well as water cooling to allow the temperature to be regulated directly from the printhead, making it easier to control the ink viscosity and therefore the drop sizes regardless of environmental temperature.

As with the KJ4B EX1200 RC, the EX600 RC was developed at Kyocera’s Kagoshima Kokubu plant in Japan. Naturally, both the KJ4B EX600 RC and EX1200 RC heads will be shown at Drupa. In the meantime, you can find further information from kyocera.co.jp.


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