JP4623717B2 - Ink supply apparatus and pressure generation method - Google Patents

Ink supply apparatus and pressure generation method Download PDF

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Publication number
JP4623717B2
JP4623717B2 JP2004357745A JP2004357745A JP4623717B2 JP 4623717 B2 JP4623717 B2 JP 4623717B2 JP 2004357745 A JP2004357745 A JP 2004357745A JP 2004357745 A JP2004357745 A JP 2004357745A JP 4623717 B2 JP4623717 B2 JP 4623717B2
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Prior art keywords
ink
print head
pressure
liquid chamber
flow path
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JP2006159811A (en
JP2006159811A5 (en
Inventor
武志 三浦
大輔 中村
宗孝 太田
一穂 灰田
祐一 高橋
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キヤノンファインテック株式会社
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Priority claimed from US11/281,927 external-priority patent/US7874656B2/en
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Description

  The present invention relates to an ink supply device that supplies ink to a print head that discharges ink, and a pressure generation method that generates pressure in the print head.

  2. Related Art Inkjet image forming apparatuses (inkjet recording apparatuses) that form images by ejecting ink from a print head (recording head) onto a recording medium are known. In this inkjet image forming apparatus, generally, a high-definition image can be formed using a small print head in which a plurality of nozzles from which ink is ejected are formed at high density. Further, by arranging a plurality of small print heads and supplying inks of different colors to the print heads, a color image can be formed on a recording medium with a relatively inexpensive and small configuration. Inkjet image forming apparatuses have the advantages as described above, and are used in various image output apparatuses such as printers, facsimiles, and copiers regardless of whether they are for business use or home use.

  In the ink jet image forming apparatus as described above, in order to stabilize the ink ejection operation from the print head, the ink in the print head is maintained at a predetermined negative pressure (the pressure acting on the ink in the print head is set to a predetermined value). It is important that the negative pressure is maintained. For this reason, in general, a negative pressure generating means is provided in an ink supply system for supplying ink to the print head, and ink to which negative pressure is applied by the negative pressure generating means is supplied to the print head.

  As such negative pressure generating means, a configuration is known in which negative pressure is generated by utilizing the capillary action of a sponge-like ink absorber housed in an ink tank (see, for example, Patent Document 1). As another negative pressure generating means, a configuration including a flexible ink bag and a bow spring is also known (see, for example, Patent Document 2). Further, as another negative pressure generating means, there is also known a configuration in which an ink tank is disposed below the print head and a negative pressure is applied to the ink using a water head difference (see, for example, Patent Document 3). ).

The ink to which a certain negative pressure is applied by the negative pressure generating means as described above is transferred from the ink tank into the print head due to a differential pressure from the negative pressure in the print head that rises as the ink is ejected from the print head. Supplied to be drawn. As a result, the inside of the print head is kept at a constant negative pressure.
Japanese Patent Laid-Open No. 2002-1988 Japanese Patent Application Laid-Open No. 06-198904 JP 2003-11380 A

  In the ink supply system provided with the negative pressure generating means as described above, as described above, the negative pressure in the print head rises as the ink is ejected from the print head, and the pressure difference caused by this rising negative pressure. Is used to draw ink from the ink tank into the print head. For this reason, when the amount of ink ejected from the print head per unit time increases rapidly, the ink supply from the ink tank to the print head cannot catch up, and as a result, the negative pressure in the print head increases (print head The pressure acting on the ink in the ink may be lower than a certain pressure). Conversely, when the amount of ink ejected from the print head per unit time decreases rapidly, the negative pressure in the print head drops due to the inertia of the ink (the pressure acting on the ink in the print head is a constant pressure). Higher pressure).

  When the negative pressure in the print head fluctuates in this way, the ink discharge operation from the print head becomes unstable, and there is a possibility that the recording quality of the image is lowered. In particular, in an industrial printing apparatus that records an image on a large format recording medium at a high speed, the amount of ink ejected from the print head per unit time varies greatly, so the negative pressure in the print head fluctuates. easy. For this reason, in order to meet the demand for high recording quality, it is important to suppress fluctuations in the negative pressure in the print head.

  Similarly, in an industrial printing apparatus that records an image on a large-sized recording medium at a high speed, it is located between the ink tank and the print head exchanged by the user and below the print head. A configuration in which an ink tank (hereinafter referred to as a sub-tank) is disposed in the ink and a negative pressure is applied to the ink by utilizing a water head difference is widely adopted. However, in order to use the water head difference, the arrangement positions of the sub tank and the print head are limited and restricted as described above, and this restriction has a considerable influence on the degree of freedom of the overall configuration of the apparatus.

  SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In view of the above circumstances, an object of the present invention is to provide an ink supply device and a pressure generation method capable of maintaining the pressure acting on the ink in the print head within an appropriate range regardless of the arrangement position of the ink container and the print head. And

In order to achieve the above object, an ink supply apparatus of the present invention includes an ink container for storing ink supplied to the liquid chamber of a print head in which a nozzle for discharging ink and a liquid chamber communicating with the nozzle are formed. In the ink supply device for supplying ink from the ink container to the liquid chamber,
(1) an ink circulation path through which ink circulating through the ink container and the liquid chamber flows;
(2) A circulation pump for circulating ink in the ink circulation path is provided.

here,
(3) The circulation pump may be disposed in the ink circulation path.

Also,
(4) The ink circulation path is
(4-1) a first ink circulation path that connects the ink container and the liquid chamber;
(4-2) It may have a second ink circulation path that connects the ink container and the liquid chamber at a part different from the part to which the first ink circulation path is connected.

further,
(5) An opening / closing valve for opening / closing the first ink circulation path may be provided.

Furthermore,
(6) The circulation pump may be disposed in the first ink circulation path.

Furthermore,
(7) An open / close valve for opening and closing the second ink circulation path may be provided.

Furthermore,
(8) The circulation pump may circulate the ink in either direction by forward and reverse rotation.

Furthermore,
(9) The circulation pump may be a gear pump or a tube pump.

Furthermore,
(10) The circulation pump may change an amount of ink circulating in the ink circulation path.

Furthermore,
(11) a pressure detection sensor for detecting a pressure acting on the ink in the liquid chamber;
(12) The circulation pump may change the amount of ink that circulates in the ink circulation path based on the pressure detected by the pressure detection sensor.

Furthermore,
(13) The circulation pump may change the amount of ink that circulates in the ink circulation path based on the amount of ink discharged from the print head per unit time.

Furthermore,
(14) The ink container may be arranged such that the liquid level of the ink stored in the ink container is positioned above the ink discharge port of the nozzle of the print head.

Further, the pressure generating method of the present invention for achieving the above object includes an ink container for storing ink to be supplied to the liquid chamber of a print head in which a nozzle for discharging ink and a liquid chamber communicating with the nozzle are formed. In a pressure generation method for generating pressure on the print head in an ink supply device that supplies ink from the ink container to the liquid chamber,
(15) A pressure is generated in the print head by circulating ink between the ink container and the liquid chamber.

here,
(16) The pressure to be generated may be changed by changing the amount of ink to be circulated.

Also,
(17) An ink circulation path through which ink circulates is different from the first ink circulation path that connects the ink container and the liquid chamber, and the ink container at a portion that is different from the portion where the first ink circulation path is connected A circulation pump configured to circulate ink in the first ink circulation path and the second ink circulation path, in addition to the second ink circulation path connected to the liquid chamber;
(18) The ink may be circulated through the first ink circulation path and the second ink circulation path by driving the circulation pump.

further,
(19) A pressure detection sensor for detecting the pressure acting on the ink in the liquid chamber is prepared,
(20) The amount of ink circulating through the ink circulation path may be changed based on the pressure detected by the pressure detection sensor.

Furthermore,
(21) The amount of ink circulating in the ink circulation path may be changed based on the amount of ink ejected from the print head per unit time.

  As used herein, “recording” (also referred to as image formation) is not only for forming significant information such as characters and graphics, but also for human beings to be perceived visually, regardless of significance. Regardless of whether or not they are manifested, it includes cases where images, patterns, patterns, etc. are widely formed on a recording medium or the medium is processed.

  The “recording medium” (also referred to as a sheet) is not only paper used in general recording apparatuses but also widely accepts ink such as cloth, plastic film, metal plate, glass, ceramics, wood, leather, etc. This includes what is possible.

  Further, the term “ink” should be broadly interpreted in the same way as the definition of “recording”, and is applied to a recording medium to form an image, a pattern, a pattern, or the like, A liquid that can be used for ink processing (for example, solidification or insolubilization of a colorant in ink applied to a recording medium) is included.

  According to the present invention, the ink is circulated through the ink circulation path by driving the circulation pump, and the ink is circulated between the ink container and the liquid chamber. During this circulation, a negative pressure is generated due to a pressure loss in the ink circulation path, and this negative pressure acts on the liquid chamber so that the pressure acting on the ink in the print head (ink in the nozzle) is within an appropriate range. Can be kept at negative pressure. As a result, the recording quality is improved. Further, since the positional relationship between the ink container and the print head is not limited, the degree of freedom of the overall configuration of the apparatus is improved. Furthermore, since the ink in the liquid chamber of the print head circulates and returns to the ink container, bubbles present in the ink in the liquid chamber can be removed from the liquid chamber. As a result, ink ejection is further stabilized.

  The present invention has been realized in an ink jet printer that forms an image by ejecting ink onto a recording medium such as recording paper.

  With reference to FIG. 1, an example of a printer incorporating the ink supply device of the present invention will be described.

  FIG. 1 is a front view schematically showing an example of a printer in which the ink supply apparatus of the present invention is incorporated.

  The printer 10 is connected to a host PC (personal computer) 12 that sends image information to the printer 10. In the printer 10, four (four) print heads 22 </ b> K, 22 </ b> C, 22 </ b> M, and 22 </ b> Y are arranged side by side in the conveyance direction (arrow A direction) of the recording medium (roll paper in this case). The four print heads 22K, 22C, 22M, and 22Y respectively eject black, cyan, magenta, and yellow inks. These four print heads 22K, 22C, 22M, and 22Y are so-called line heads, and extend in a direction orthogonal to the paper surface of FIG. 1 (a direction orthogonal to the arrow A direction). The lengths of these four print heads 22K, 22C, 22M, and 22Y are slightly longer than the maximum width (the length in the direction perpendicular to the paper surface of FIG. 1) of the recording medium that can be printed by the printer 10. These four print heads 22K, 22C, 22M, and 22Y are fixed and do not move during image formation.

  A recovery unit 40 is incorporated in the printer 10 so that ink can be stably ejected from the four print heads 22K, 22C, 22M, and 22Y. By the recovery unit 40, the ink discharge state from the print heads 22K, 22C, 22M, and 22Y is restored to the initial ink discharge state. The recovery unit 40 includes a capping mechanism 50 that removes ink from the ink discharge port formation surfaces 22Ks, 22Cs, 22Ms, and 22Ys of the four print heads 22K, 22C, 22M, and 22Y during the recovery operation. The capping mechanism 50 is provided independently for each print head 22K, 22C, 22M, 22Y. In the example of FIG. 1, six colors (that is, six capping mechanisms 50) are shown. The color component is a preliminary mechanism when the print head is added. The capping mechanism 50 includes a known blade, an ink removing member, a blade holding member, a cap, and the like.

  The roll paper P is supplied from the roll paper supply unit 24 and is conveyed in the direction of arrow A by the conveyance mechanism 26 incorporated in the printer 10. The transport mechanism 26 includes a transport belt 26a for loading and transporting the roll paper P, a transport motor 26b for rotating the transport belt 26a, and a roller 26c for applying tension to the transport belt 26a.

  When forming an image on the roll paper P, after the recording start position of the roll paper P being conveyed reaches below the black print head 22K, the print head is based on the recording data (image information). Black ink is selectively ejected from 22K. Similarly, ink of each color is ejected in the order of the print head 22C, the print head 22M, and the print head 22Y to form a color image on the roll paper P. The printer 10 includes main tanks 28K, 28C, 28M, and 28Y for storing ink supplied to the print heads 22K, 22C, 22M, and 22Y, and the print heads 22K, 22C, and 22M, in addition to the components and members described above. , 22Y are provided with various pumps (see FIG. 3 and the like) for supplying ink and performing a recovery operation. An example of the ink supply device of the present invention is constituted by the various pumps described above.

  The electrical system of the printer 10 will be described with reference to FIG.

  FIG. 2 is a block diagram showing an electrical system of the printer of FIG.

  Recording data and commands transmitted from the host PC 12 are received by the CPU 100 via the interface controller 102. The CPU 100 is an arithmetic processing unit that performs overall control such as reception of recording data of the printer 10, recording operation, handling of the roll paper P, and the like. After analyzing the received command, the CPU 100 renders the image data of each color component of the recording data by developing a bitmap on the image memory 106. As an operation process before recording, the capping motor 122 and the head up / down motor 118 are driven via the output port 114 and the motor driving unit 116, and the print heads 22K, 22C, 22M, and 22Y are separated from the capping mechanism 50 for recording. Move to position (image forming position).

  Subsequently, the roll motor (not shown) that feeds the roll paper P through the output port 114, the motor drive unit 116, the transport motor 120 that transports the roll paper P at a low speed, and the like are driven to drive the roll paper P. -The paper P is conveyed to the recording position. The leading end position of the roll paper P is detected by a leading edge detection sensor (not shown) for determining the timing (recording timing) at which ink starts to be discharged onto the roll paper P conveyed at a constant speed. Thereafter, in synchronism with the conveyance of the roll paper P, the CPU 100 sequentially reads the recording data of the corresponding color from the image memory 106, and prints the read data to the print heads 22K, 22C, 22M, 22Y. Transfer via the circuit 112.

  The operation of the CPU 100 is executed based on a processing program stored in the program ROM 104. The program ROM 104 stores processing programs and tables corresponding to the control flow. A work RAM 108 is used as a working memory. During the cleaning and recovery operations of the print heads 22K, 22C, 22M, and 22Y, the CPU 100 drives the pump motor 124 via the output port 114 and the motor driving unit 116, and controls ink pressurization and suction.

  The ink supply device incorporated in the printer 10 will be described with reference to FIGS.

  FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram illustrating an ink supply device incorporated in an inkjet image forming apparatus. FIG. 4 is a flowchart showing a procedure for cleaning the print head. FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram showing a procedure for wiping ink from the ink ejection surface, where (a) shows the state before the start of wiping, (b) shows the state immediately after the end of wiping, and (c) shows the standby state after the end of wiping. Indicates the state. Although FIG. 3 shows an ink supply device for supplying ink to the print head 22K and for recovering the print head 22K, the ink supply device having the same configuration is also used for the other print heads 22C, 22M, and 22Y. Is provided. 3 and 5, the same components as those shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 are denoted by the same reference numerals.

  The printer 10 (see FIG. 1) incorporates an ink supply device 60 that supplies ink to the print head 22K. The ink supply device 60 includes an ink tank 70 that can be attached to and detached from the main body of the printer 10, a sub tank 80 disposed in the middle of an ink supply path 62 that connects the ink tank 70 and the print head 22 </ b> K, and the like. A print head 22K is disposed under the sub tank 80. The liquid level of the ink stored in the sub tank 80 is located above the ink discharge port of the nozzle 22Kn of the print head 22K.

  The sub tank 80 and the print head 22K are connected (connected) by two ink flow paths 64 and 66. The ink flow path 64 is an example of a first ink circulation path according to the present invention, and the ink flow path 66 is an example of a second ink circulation path according to the present invention. The sub tank 80 and the print head 22K are fixed to the same frame (not shown), and the sub tank 80 and the ink flow paths 64 and 66 move together with the print head 22K.

  The ink flow path 64 connects the bottom of the sub tank 80 and the upper part of the liquid chamber (the chamber in which ink is stored) 22Kr of the print head 22K. On the other hand, the ink channel 66 connects the bottom of the sub tank 80 and the upper part of the liquid chamber 22Kr of the print head 22K at a portion different from the portion to which the ink channel 64 is connected.

  A circulation pump 68 that circulates ink between the sub tank 80 and the liquid chamber 22Kr is attached to the ink flow path 64. By driving the circulation pump 68, the ink in the sub-tank 80 flows into the liquid chamber 22Kr through the ink flow path 64, and further returns from the liquid chamber 22Kr through the ink flow path 66 to the sub-tank 80. It flows into the path 64 and circulates. By reversing the driving of the circulation pump 68, the ink in the sub tank 80 flows into the liquid chamber 22Kr through the ink flow path 66, and further returns from the liquid chamber 22Kr through the ink flow path 64 to the sub tank 80. Then, the ink flows into the ink flow channel 66 and circulates. As described above, the circulation pump 68 rotates in the forward and reverse directions, and ink can be circulated in any direction. The circulation pump 68 is also used when cleaning the print head 22K.

  A standby valve 69 that opens and closes the ink flow path 64 at a predetermined timing is attached to the ink flow path 64. On the other hand, a pressure valve 67 that opens and closes the ink channel 66 at a predetermined timing is attached to the ink channel 66. A pressure detection sensor 81 for detecting the ink pressure in the ink channel 66 is attached to a portion of the ink channel 66 between the pressurizing valve 67 and the sub tank 80.

  On the upper wall of the sub tank 80, an air release valve 84 for fixing the internal pressure of the sub tank 80 to atmospheric pressure is fixed. By opening the atmosphere release valve 84, the internal pressure of the sub tank 80 becomes equal to the atmospheric pressure. The sub tank 80 is provided with a well-known liquid level detection sensor 86 for detecting the liquid level of the ink (stored ink) stored in the sub tank 80. When the liquid level detection sensor 86 detects that the ink level in the sub tank 80 has become below a certain level, the supply pump 72 starts to operate and ink is sucked from the ink tank 70 and supplied to the sub tank 80. On the other hand, when the liquid level detection sensor 86 detects that the ink level in the sub tank 80 has reached a predetermined upper limit level, the supply pump 72 is stopped and the ink supply is stopped.

  A detection sensor (not shown) that detects the presence or absence of ink in the ink tank 70 is attached to the ink tank 70. An air release valve 74 for bringing the internal pressure of the ink tank 70 to atmospheric pressure is attached to an air flow path connected when the ink tank 70 is attached to the main body of the printer 10.

  The cleaning operation of the print head 22K will be described.

  The cleaning operation herein refers to an operation performed to continuously maintain the ink discharge quality of the print head 22K, and when conditions such as elapsed time and discharge status are satisfied, or the image quality is abnormal. This can be done automatically or optionally when the

  As shown in the flow of FIG. 4, the cleaning operation is started by receiving a cleaning command (S401). After receiving the cleaning command, the atmosphere release valve 84, the pressurization valve 67, and the standby valve 69 are sequentially opened (S402 to S404). Subsequently, the circulation pump 68 is activated (rotation in the direction of arrow C) (S405), and ink is pumped from the sub tank 80 to the print head 22K via the ink flow path 64. By this ink pumping, bubbles accumulated on the side of the sub tank 80 of the filter 90 during the recording operation or the like are pushed again into the sub tank 80.

  After the circulation pump 68 is operated for a predetermined time, the pressure valve 67 is closed (S406), and the ink flow path 66 is shut off (closed). As a result, a large positive pressure is applied (acts) to the liquid chamber 22Kr of the print head 22K. With this large positive pressure, ink is discharged from each nozzle 22Kn of the print head 22K, and foreign matters such as bubbles and dust existing in the nozzle 22Kn and its peripheral part are removed.

  Further, after a predetermined time has elapsed, the circulation pump 68 is stopped (S407), and the standby valve 69 and the atmosphere release valve 84 are closed in order (S408, S409). In this state, ink adheres to the face surface 22Ks including the opening of each nozzle 22Kn of the print head 22K and is dirty. In order to remove this dirt, the face surface 22Ks is wiped with a wiper 52 fixed to the capping mechanism 50 as shown in FIG. In this operation, first, as shown in FIG. 5A, the print head 22K moves above the recovery cap 54 (S410). Subsequently, when the recovery cap 54 moves in the direction of arrow B, as shown in FIG. 5B, dirt such as ink adhering to the face surface 22Ks is wiped off by the wiper 52 (S411). This operation is called a wiping operation. After completion of the wiping operation, as shown in FIG. 5C, the print head 22K is capped again and enters a standby state (S412). Since the print head 22K in this standby state has its face surface 22Ks capped (closed) by the recovery cap 54, thickening of the ink in the nozzle 22Kn is prevented. The ink (waste ink) discharged from the print head 22K is received by the recovery cap 54 and sucked by the suction pump 92 (see FIG. 3). The waste ink is filtered by a filter 94 (see FIG. 3) to remove foreign matter (screened), and then returned to the ink tank 70 again. In addition, only the wiping operation described above may be performed at an appropriate timing.

  A technique for adjusting the pressure in the print head 22K by the circulation pump 68 will be described with reference to FIGS.

  FIG. 6 is an enlarged view showing the ink supply device. FIG. 7 is a pressure transition diagram showing a pressure transition in a circulation path through which ink circulates. In these drawings, the same components as those shown in FIG. 3 are denoted by the same reference numerals. The pressure transition diagram of FIG. 7 represents the pressure in each part by horizontally developing the ink circulation path including the circulation pump 68. Also, the reference numerals (numerals) above the arrows in FIG. 7 represent each member (for example, 68 represents a circulation pump), the left side of the arrows (68IN for the circulation pump 68) is the pressure on the ink inflow side, and the right side (circulation) In the pump 68, 68OUT) is the pressure on the ink outflow side.

  As the above-described pressurizing valve 67, standby valve 69, and atmosphere release valve 84, as shown in FIG. 6, an electromagnetic valve that shuts off the ink flow path by a valve sheet 132 integrated with a solenoid plunger 130. However, in the present invention, these methods are not limited at all, and there is no problem even if other methods are adopted. Further, although the gear pump is used as the circulation pump 68, a tube pump or another type of pump may be used.

  At the time of recording, it is necessary to apply an appropriate negative pressure to the print head 22K (applying pressure to the ink so that an ink meniscus is formed at the ink discharge port (nozzle outlet) of the print head 22K). In this case, the pressurization valve 67, the standby valve 69, and the air release valve 84 are in an open state. In this state, the circulation pump 68 is driven so as to rotate in the direction of arrow D, so that the ink in the subtank 80 sequentially starts from the subtank 80, the pressure valve 67, the filter 90, the liquid chamber 22Kr of the print head 22K, the filter 91, It returns to the sub tank 80 again via the standby valve 69 and the circulation pump 68.

  As shown in FIG. 7, the pressure at each part of the ink circulating (for example, the ink suction side 68IN and the ink discharge side 68OUT of the circulation pump 68) in the ink circulation path starting from the sub tank 80, as shown in FIG. The negative pressure increases each time the pressure loss member such as the filters 90 and 91 is applied, and becomes maximum on the ink inflow (suction) side 68IN of the circulation pump 68. The circulation pump 68 applies a positive pressure to the ink and pumps the ink back to the sub tank 80.

  The pressure (negative pressure) in the pressure transition diagram shown in FIG. 7 increases or decreases in proportion to the flow rate of the circulation pump 68 (flow rate of circulating ink). For this reason, by controlling this flow rate, it is possible to control the pressure applied (acting) to the print head 22K (in FIG. 7, a negative pressure within the range of Q to R). Further, in the liquid chamber 22Kr of the print head 22K, the pressure loss (QR) in the liquid chamber 22Kr can be suppressed by devising such as widening the cross-sectional area of the flow path in the liquid chamber 22Kr. A constant pressure (negative pressure) can be applied across a plurality of nozzles communicating with the liquid chamber 22Kr.

  The procedure from the standby mode to the recording operation will be described with reference to FIGS.

  FIG. 8 is a flowchart showing a procedure from the standby mode to the recording operation. FIG. 9A is a schematic diagram showing the print head capped by the recovery cap, and FIG. 9B is a schematic diagram showing the position of the print head during the recording operation. FIG. 10A is a graph showing the pressure in the ink circulation path due to only the water head difference, and FIG. 10B is a graph showing the pressure in the ink circulation path when the circulation pump is used. FIG. 11 is a graph showing the pressure in the ink circulation path when the printing duty (ejection duty) is 0% and 100%. The reference numerals in FIGS. 10 and 11 are the same as those in FIG.

  By receiving a print command in the standby mode (S801), the atmosphere release valve 84 is opened (S802). Subsequently, the pressure valve 67 is opened and the ink flow path 66 is opened (S803). In this embodiment, since the sub-tank 80 is disposed above the print head 22K, when the atmosphere release valve 84 and the pressurization valve 67 are opened, the water head pressure h1 is applied to the nozzle 22Kn of the print head 22K (see FIG. 10A). ) Acts to cause ink to flow from the sub tank 80 through the ink flow path 66 to the print head 22K. Here, by opening the standby valve 69 (S804) and operating the circulation pump 68 (S805), the negative pressure is generated, so the water head pressure h1 (see FIG. 10 (a)) disappears, and FIG. As shown in FIG. 10B, a negative pressure h2 is applied (acts) to the nozzle 22Kn of the print head 22K. As a result, as described above, negative pressure is applied to the ink in the print head 22K, and an ink meniscus is formed at the ink discharge port.

  Subsequently, the print head 22K is moved to the wiping position (S806), and the wiping operation described with reference to FIGS. 4 and 5 is performed (S807). Thereafter, as shown in FIG. The head 22K is lowered and moved to the recording position (S808). As described above, since the sub tank 80, the ink flow paths 64, 66, and the print head 22K are fixed to the same frame, the ink flow paths 64, 66 remain secured even when the print head 22K is lowered. The negative pressure h2 remains applied to the print head 22K. Even if they are not attached to the same frame, the negative pressure h2 is similarly maintained if the relative positional relationship does not change.

  After the print head 22K is lowered and reaches a predetermined recording position as described above, a recording operation (image formation) is executed (S809). After the end of the recording operation, as shown in FIG. 9A, the print head 22K is raised and capped by the recovery cap 54 (S810). Thereafter, the operation of the circulation pump 68 is stopped (S811), then the standby valve 69 is closed (S812), the pressurization valve 67 is closed (S813), and the atmosphere release valve 84 is further closed (S814). -This is the end of this flow.

  Meanwhile, since ink is ejected from the nozzle 22Kn during the recording operation, ink is supplied from the liquid chamber 22Kr to the nozzle 22Kn, and the ink in the liquid chamber 22Kr is reduced. In this case, ink flow is generated in accordance with the ejection frequency of the print head 22K linked to the recording speed (printing speed) and the ratio of the ejection nozzles to the entire nozzles of the print head 22K (printing duty) depending on the formed image. Then, the pressure acting on the nozzles 22Kn of the print head 22K varies due to the variation in the amount of ink flowing through the ink circulation paths (ink flow paths 64 and 66).

  Here, assuming that ink is ejected at a certain ejection frequency, a pressure transition line 1001 at a non-ejection print duty of 0% (no ink ejected from all nozzles) and a print duty of 100% (from all nozzles) The pressure in the nozzles 22Kn of the print head 22K varies within a range sandwiched between the pressure transition lines 1002 when ink is ejected). Since the pressure fluctuation affects the ink discharge state of the print head 22K, the pressure fluctuation can be suppressed by controlling the flow rate of the ink circulated by the circulation pump 68. This control will be described.

  When the amount of ink ejected from the nozzle 22Kn per unit time decreases, the number of circulating ink (ink flow rate) is increased by increasing the number of revolutions of the circulation pump 68. Thereby, the negative pressure in the liquid chamber 22Kr (that is, the negative pressure in the nozzle 22Kn) increases (the negative pressure increases). Accordingly, since the decrease in the negative pressure in the print head 22K due to the reduction in the ink discharge amount is suppressed, the inside of the print head 22K can be maintained at a constant negative pressure.

  On the other hand, when the amount of ink ejected from the nozzle 22Kn per unit time increases, the rotational speed of the circulation pump 68 is decreased to decrease the amount of ink circulating (ink flow rate). When the ink discharge amount per unit time is particularly large, the operation of the circulation pump 68 is stopped or reversed. Thereby, the negative pressure in the liquid chamber 22Kr (that is, the negative pressure in the nozzle 22Kn) is reduced (the negative pressure is lowered). Accordingly, it is possible to prevent the print head 22K from becoming excessively negative pressure. By controlling as described above, an appropriate negative pressure can always be applied to the nozzle 22Kn.

  In order to carry out the control as described above, a pressure detection sensor 81 (see FIG. 3 and the like) is disposed in the liquid chamber 22Kr in order to detect pressure fluctuations in the print head 22K, and this pressure detection sensor. A method of feeding back the detected value 81 to the drive circuit of the circulation pump 68 is conceivable. That is, the rotational speed of the circulation pump 68 is controlled based on the pressure detected by the pressure detection sensor 81, and the pressure in the print head 22K is adjusted. This adjustment will be described later with reference to FIGS. In addition, if the correlation between the detected value and the pressure actually applied to the liquid chamber 22Kr has been clarified and the pressure detection sensor 81 is reflected in the control table, the pressure detection sensor 81 is disposed in another place in the circulation path. May be.

  In addition, an optimal drive table for the circulation pump 68 is created in advance based on the formed image and the frequency (frequency) of ink ejection, and the circulation pump 68 is driven based on this drive table. . That is, the pressure in the print head 22K is adjusted by controlling the rotational speed of the circulation pump 68 based on the amount of ink discharged from the print head 22K per unit time. If the change in the ink discharge state from the nozzles 22Kn due to the pressure fluctuation in the print head 22K is at a level that does not cause a problem in the quality of the formed image, the circulation pump 68 may operate under a certain condition.

  A technique for adjusting the pressure in the print head 22K by controlling the rotational speed of the circulation pump 68 based on the pressure detected by the pressure detection sensor 81 will be described in detail with reference to FIGS.

  FIG. 12 is a time chart showing an example when the ink supply apparatus of FIG. 6 operates. FIG. 13 is a flowchart illustrating an example of a procedure in which the ink supply device of FIG. 6 operates.

  First, with reference to FIG. 12, the operation of the ink supply device of FIG. 6 will be described from the viewpoint of the print duty of the print head 22K and the pressure acting on the print head 22K.

  In the non-ejection state (printing duty OFF (0%) state) 301 in which ink is not ejected from the print head 22K, the circulation pump 68 has a reference numeral 302 in order to make the print head 22K ready for ink ejection. The circulating pump 68 generates a constant pressure as indicated by, and the pressure of the print head 22K is controlled as indicated by reference numeral 303. When ink discharge is started from the print head 22K (reference numeral 304), the pressure generated by the circulation pump 68 prior to the ink discharge is brought close to the atmospheric pressure (0 mmAq) in advance (reduced negative pressure) (reference numerals 306 and 305). . Even after printing is started, the pump-generated pressure is adjusted in accordance with the change in the printing duty. As a result, the pressure change due to ink ejection is alleviated, and the negative pressure is controlled within the preferable ink ejectable area 307. Here, when the pressure does not fall within the ink dischargeable area 307 even when the pressure is close to the atmospheric pressure, the circulation pump 68 is rotated forward (rotated in the ink supply direction) to a pressure state (positive pressure) 311 higher than the atmospheric pressure. Control to be. On the contrary, when the print duty decreases (reference numeral 310), the pump-generated pressure is set to a negative pressure (reference numeral 309).

  By controlling the driving of the circulation pump 68 based on the print duty as described above, an irregular pressure change (reference numeral 308) is observed due to a delay in response to the print duty change due to the inertial force of the ink. In general, the negative pressure is controlled within the preferable ink dischargeable area 307.

  An example of the pressure control procedure will be described with reference to FIG. This procedure is executed by the CPU 100 in accordance with the program stored in the ROM 104 in the configuration of the printer control system shown in FIG.

  First, the presence / absence of print data is confirmed (S1301). If print data is present, the circulation pump 68 is started to rotate (S1302), and printing is started (S1303). Subsequently, the pressure is detected by the pressure detection sensor 81 (S1304). When the detected pressure is within the predetermined range, the circulation pump 68 is rotated as it is to continue printing, and it is determined whether or not printing is finished (S1305). When it is determined that the printing is finished, this flow is finished. If it is determined that printing has not ended, the process returns to S1304, and the pressure is detected again by the pressure detection sensor 81 (S1304).

  If the pressure detected in S1304 is higher than the predetermined lower limit value, the pressure in the print head 22K may become higher than the atmospheric pressure. Therefore, by increasing the rotational speed of the circulation pump 68, the pressure in the print head 22K is increased. The pressure is controlled so as to be within the predetermined range (S1306), and it is determined whether or not the printing is finished (S1305). When it is determined that the printing is finished, this flow is finished. If it is determined that printing has not ended, the process returns to S1304, and the pressure is detected again by the pressure detection sensor 81 (S1304).

  If the pressure detected in S1304 is lower than the predetermined lower limit value, the pressure in the print head 22K is considerably lower than the atmospheric pressure and ink may not be ejected, so the rotational speed of the circulation pump 68 is decreased ( Control is performed so that the pressure in the print head 22K falls within the predetermined range (S1307), and it is determined whether printing is completed (S1305). When it is determined that the printing is finished, this flow is finished. If it is determined that printing has not ended, the process returns to S1304, and the pressure is detected again by the pressure detection sensor 81 (S1304).

  Regardless of the software processing described above, the counter for counting the constituent bits of the image data and the means for controlling the motor that drives the circulation pump 68 based on the count value are configured by hardware. You can also. Further, instead of performing control when the print duty changes according to the progress of printing, a pump control curve is determined based on print data in advance, and pump control is performed feedforward based on this. Good.

  By the way, a print head that employs a so-called bubble jet recording system that uses thermal energy generated from a heating element as energy for ejecting ink, or another ink ejection system (for example, a system that uses a piezoelectric element). In the print head, bubbles remaining in the nozzles during ink discharge, dissolved gas eluates in the ink, etc. may stay in the liquid chamber and have a negative effect on ink discharge. In the present invention, since the ink is circulated in the ink flow path including the liquid chamber 22Kr of the print head 22K during image formation, the bubbles are collected by the filters 90 and 91 and conveyed to the sub tank 80. Separated from the ink. For this reason, bubbles do not accumulate and accumulate in the liquid chamber 22Kr, and ink is ejected continuously and stably.

  As described above, according to the ink supply device 60, by driving the circulation pump 68, the ink circulates through the ink flow paths 64, 66, and the ink circulates between the sub tank 80 and the liquid chamber 22Kr. Become. During this circulation, a negative pressure is generated due to a pressure loss in the ink flow paths 64 and 66, and this negative pressure acts on the liquid chamber 22Kr to act on the ink in the print head 22K (ink in the nozzle 22Kn). Can be maintained at a negative pressure within the proper range. As a result, the recording quality is improved. Further, since the positional relationship between the sub tank 80 and the print head 22K is not limited, the degree of freedom of the overall configuration of the apparatus is improved. Further, since the ink in the liquid chamber 22Kr of the print head 22K circulates and returns to the sub tank 80, bubbles existing in the ink in the liquid chamber 22Kr can be removed from the liquid chamber 22Kr. As a result, ink ejection is further stabilized.

  In the first embodiment described above, the sub tank 80 is disposed above the print head 22K, but the present invention is not limited to such an arrangement. As an example of this, an ink supply device 160 in which a sub tank 80 is disposed below the print head 22K will be described with reference to FIG.

  FIG. 14 is a schematic diagram illustrating an ink supply apparatus according to the second embodiment. In this figure, the same components as those shown in FIG. 3 are denoted by the same reference numerals.

  In the ink supply device 160 according to the second embodiment, the sub tank 80 is disposed below the print head 22K. Even in such a positional relationship, the circulation pump 68 can be used when a positive pressure is applied from the outside in order to maintain an appropriate negative pressure in the print head 22K.

  Further, as described above, since the inside of the print head 22K can be maintained at an appropriate negative pressure by the circulation pump 68 regardless of the positional relationship between the print head 22K and the sub tank 80, it is compared with a conventional device that relies on the differential pressure due to the water head difference. Thus, the installation position of the sub tank 80 is not restricted, and the degree of freedom in designing the apparatus is improved.

  In the first embodiment, the circulation pump 68 is driven to change the flow rate of the ink circulated between the sub tank 80 and the liquid chamber 22Kr, and the pressure applied to the print head 22K is controlled. Then, the pressure applied to the print head 22K can also be controlled by making the pressure loss of the ink flow paths 64 and 66 variable.

  Specifically, in the configuration of the first embodiment, a proportional solenoid valve in which the stroke amount of the plunger 130 (see FIG. 6 and the like) is displaced by the applied voltage is used as the pressurizing valve 67 (see FIG. 6 and the like). A valve sheet 132 is attached to one end of the plunger 130. By controlling the stroke amount, the cross-sectional area of the ink flow path 66 can be varied, and so-called variable flow resistors are used for printing. The amount of negative pressure applied to the liquid chamber 22Kr of the head 22K is controlled. In this configuration, pressure control is possible with the flow rate of the circulation pump 68 being constant. Further, the pressure may be controlled by both the circulation pump 68 and the pressurizing valve 67 (proportional electromagnetic valve). Even if it is such a structure, the effect similar to Example 1 is acquired.

  Any system that includes an ink circulation path including a circulation pump and applies a negative pressure generated by pressure loss of the ink circulation path to the print head when the circulation pump is operated is included in the present invention. Further, the case where the present invention is applied to an ink jet recording head that employs a so-called bubble jet recording method using heat energy generated from a heating element as energy for ejecting ink has been described as an example. It is obvious that the invention can be applied to other types of ink jet recording heads (for example, a method using a piezoelectric element).

  In addition, as a mechanical configuration of an ink jet image forming apparatus that records an image on a recording medium using the ink supply device according to the present invention (image formation), an image is formed while a carriage on which a print head is mounted is moved. Even the serial recording method may be a full line recording method in which an image is formed while moving the recording medium relative to a print head having a length corresponding to the width of the recording medium.

FIG. 2 is a front view schematically illustrating an example of a printer in which the ink supply device of the invention is incorporated. FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating an electrical system of the printer of FIG. 1. 1 is a schematic diagram illustrating an ink supply device incorporated in an inkjet image forming apparatus. It is a flowchart which shows the procedure at the time of cleaning a print head. It is a schematic diagram which shows the procedure of wiping off an ink from an ink discharge surface, (a) shows before wiping start, (b) shows immediately after completion | finish of wiping, (c) shows the standby state after completion | finish of wiping. It is an enlarged view which shows an ink supply apparatus. It is a pressure transition diagram which shows the transition of the pressure in the circulation path where ink circulates. FIG. 6 is a flowchart showing a procedure from a standby mode to a recording operation. (A) is a schematic diagram showing a print head capped by a recovery cap, and (b) is a schematic diagram showing a position of the print head during a recording operation. (A) is a graph which shows the pressure in the ink circulation path resulting only from a water head difference, (b) is a graph which shows the pressure in the ink circulation path when a circulation pump is used. It is a graph which shows the pressure in an ink circulation path when printing duty (discharge duty) is 0% and 100%. 7 is a time chart illustrating an example when the ink supply device of FIG. 6 operates. It is a flowchart which shows an example of the procedure which the ink supply apparatus of FIG. 6 operate | moves. FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram illustrating an ink supply device according to a second embodiment.

Explanation of symbols

DESCRIPTION OF SYMBOLS 10 Printer 22K, 22C, 22M, 22Y Print head 22Kr Liquid chamber 60 of print head 22K Ink supply device 64, 66 Ink flow path 67 Pressurization valve 68 Circulation pump 69 Standby valve 70 Ink tank 80 Sub tank 81 Pressure detection sensor

Claims (4)

  1. A print head in which a nozzle for discharging ink and a liquid chamber communicating with the nozzle are formed;
    An ink container for storing ink to be supplied to the liquid chamber; and an ink supply device that supplies ink from the ink container to the liquid chamber.
    A first ink flow path connecting the ink container and the liquid chamber;
    A second ink channel that connects the ink container and the liquid chamber at a portion different from the portion to which the first ink channel is connected;
    A circulation pump provided in the first ink flow path for circulating ink between the ink container and the liquid chamber by passing through the first ink flow path and the second ink flow path;
    A pressure detection sensor for detecting a pressure acting on the ink in the liquid chamber;
    A filter that is provided between the ink container and the liquid chamber and filters foreign matter contained in the ink flowing from the second ink flow path to the liquid chamber without passing through the ink container;
    An open / close valve provided in the second ink flow path for opening and closing the second ink flow path,
    The circulation pump includes a first direction in which ink is pumped from the first ink flow path to the second ink flow path through the liquid chamber, and the circulation pump from the second ink flow path to the liquid chamber through the liquid chamber. Ink can be pumped in a second direction for pumping ink into the second ink flow path, and the amount of ink flowing in the second direction is changed based on the pressure detected by the pressure detection sensor;
    When cleaning the print head, the circulating pump pumps ink in the first direction while the open / close valve is open, so that foreign matter accumulated in the filter is washed away. Is closed, and the circulation pump discharges ink from the nozzles by pumping ink in the first direction .
  2.   The ink supply device according to claim 1, wherein the circulation pump is a gear pump or a tube pump.
  3. The circulation pump is
    3. The ink supply apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the amount of ink that circulates through the ink circulation path is changed based on the amount of ink discharged from the print head per unit time.
  4. The ink container is
    The ink level stored in the ink container is disposed so as to be positioned above the ink discharge port of the nozzle of the print head. The ink supply device according to item.
JP2004357745A 2004-12-10 2004-12-10 Ink supply apparatus and pressure generation method Expired - Fee Related JP4623717B2 (en)

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JP2004357745A JP4623717B2 (en) 2004-12-10 2004-12-10 Ink supply apparatus and pressure generation method
US11/281,927 US7874656B2 (en) 2004-12-10 2005-11-16 Ink-feeding device and pressure-generating method
US12/098,002 US20080273064A1 (en) 2004-12-10 2008-04-04 Ink-feeding device and pressure-generating method

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