17 December 2017 xDigital Printing Technologies

Meteor deal will accelerate take up of Xaar printhead

Xaar is aiming at a new set of customers with its first aqueous capable printhead and has teamed up with Meteor to make the head easier to adopt.

Xaar has teamed up with Meteor Inkjet, a move to accelerate time to market for suppliers of large format inkjet printers for graphics and textiles markets.

The deal enables Meteor to supply the Xaar 1201 printhead, its first able to deliver aqueous as well as UV inks with its set of electronics to control the head. It means that the manufacturers can get a machine up and running in a couple of days, says Meteor managing director Clive Ayling.

“The customer will win because it’s a simpler and better offering. Xaar and Meteor will win because once the customer decides which to go with, we are there already,” he says.

The companies have collaborated over the last decade, but never with this degree of partnership and where Meteor was one of a number partners. With the introduction of this new head, Xaar has changed tack.

“We chose to work with Meteor Inkjet because its electronics, which are designed to be power efficient, compact and flexible, are the perfect way to get the maximum performance from the Xaar 1201,” says Simon Kirk, senior product manager at Xaar.

“While the printhead is a key part of any print system, there are a number of components that make up the printhead ecosystem, and these play a critical part in the overall printhead performance. It’s therefore essential that we are able to provide our customers not just with a superb printhead, but also with a high quality suite of electronics and software which can be used in printhead evaluation and commercial printer production. Meteor has delivered this, and together we now offer our customers the complete printhead package.”

Companies have previously had to spend weeks evaluating a print head and creating a test rig of electronics to perform more than the most rudimentary actions, something that swallows resources in terms of time and labour. Using the Meteor supplied evaluation kit, the developer can move ahead much faster, says Ayling. “And when they want to move to a more complicated system, we can switch on the extra functions that we have built in and they also have access to support from Meteor.”

For Xaar, the 1201 thin film head is a new departure, offering the equivalent to1440dpi and is a first built for scanned printing. Each head has 1280 nozzles and can fire multiple droplet sizes. Announced in 2016, deals have already been struck to supply heads to Chinese large format printers. It has also announced a deal for 90,000 print heads from Ricoh. The supply of these will need to kick to meet demand.

Xaar is targeting display graphics and textiles with the printhead, part of a strategic move away from the ceramics sector. It can print single colours or four colours and while the idea is for it to be mounted on a scanning head, Ayling does not rule out single-pass applications in packaging where water based inkjet is already being considered essential.

“This will open up new markets for Xaar because water based is the future. It’s for textiles and there’s lots of other places that the head will go,” says Ayling. “Single-pass narrow web perhaps. There will be more uses for this head that Xaar has considered.”

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Clive Ayling and Meteor electronics

Clive Ayling and Meteor electronics

Meteor Inkjet is supplying an evaluation kit for Xaar's 1201 high resolution printhead combined with its electronics to help cut time to market for developers of large format graphics and textile printers. This is a first for Xaar, not only in working with a partner, but also for the inkjet head operating with aqueous inks.

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