• Assaf Weiss

Automatic ink head cleaning system

Updated: Nov 2

My wife and kids will tell you - cleaning is not my strong suite, this is why I've always dreamed of a robot that will take care of all the mundane house chores (and at least now we have a vacuum robot cleaner, one less task at home). This is why, when we got a request from a company that designs and manufactures industrial printing presses to design and build an automatic cleaning system for their ink heads test bench I took it to heart and understood the engineers that wanted to pass on the repetitive task of ink head cleaning to an automatic machine.


The request was to design and manufacture an ink jet cleaning system, the system will be installed on a reliability testing rig (which we also designed and manufactured at Trixel engineering, the aim of the reliability testing rig is to test the efficiency and life time durability if the ink heads to various chemical formulations of inks) and is aimed at cleaning the ink head after each test cycle (which include sample test printing, purging and idling).


The cleaning process should be as fast as possible and should keep the ink heads as clean as possible in order to allow continued usage of the ink head without leaving residue which could dry and clog the delicate ink head nozzles over time.


Reliability stand with 6 test stations


The reliability stand includes 6 stations in which every station has an ink head installed (each station can receive ink heads from various types). Each ink head is held in place using customized brackets and a manual height adjustment positioning stage (with a resolution of 10 microns).


Reliability station - the height adjusting mechanism is seen on the left side of the red bracket


The ink jet head cleaning system is connected via the ink head brackets and its height is set with the adjustment of the positioning stage along with the ink head height in order to fine tune the distance between the ink head and the paper feeding machine (which was also designed and manufactured by Trixel engineering)


The cleaning system is comprised of a cleaning head which is installed on a linear guiding system and controlled by a stepper motor and limit switches at the start and end of the cleaning cycle.



Ink head cleaning system, stepper motor connected to a linear guiding system and a cleaning head


The cleaning system begins the cleaning cycle when the cleaning head is stationed on the right. At the beginning of the cycle the cleaning head is moving the squeegee along a self cleaning ramps (which removes ink residue from the squeegee). After the self cleaning is done the cleaning head moves to the ink head printing surface and drives the squeegee along the cleaning surface, when the cleaning sweep is done the cleaning head begins to fold and when the folding sequence is done the cleaning head reaches the left limit switch which in turn send a command to reverse the motion direction and start moving to the right. The cleaning head starts moving to the right (in folded position to prevent spreading ink on the clean head) and when reaching to the end of the movement starts to unfold into a straight position after which it reaches the right limit switch which stops the movement and idles, waiting for the next cleaning cycle.


Cleaning system operation (starting from the right) - The cleaning head is at idle position on the right side of the machine, the cleaning head is on the move, cleaning the ink head, the cleaning head finishes the cleaning move and is on the left side before the folding stage.



Cleaning system operation (starting from the left) - The cleaning head is at the end of the cleaning stage starting the folding stage, cleaning head folding is done and the left limit switch is engaged, the cleaning head begins moving to the right side of the system.


Cleaning system operation (starting from left) - The cleaning head reaches the end of the stroke at the right side of the system and begins unfolding into the straight position, when the unfolding is done the right limit switch is engaged, the cleaning head is idling, waiting for the next cleaning cycle.


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