JP6040076B2 - Droplet discharge method and droplet discharge apparatus - Google Patents

Droplet discharge method and droplet discharge apparatus Download PDF

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JP6040076B2
JP6040076B2 JP2013067681A JP2013067681A JP6040076B2 JP 6040076 B2 JP6040076 B2 JP 6040076B2 JP 2013067681 A JP2013067681 A JP 2013067681A JP 2013067681 A JP2013067681 A JP 2013067681A JP 6040076 B2 JP6040076 B2 JP 6040076B2
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nozzle
means
head
droplet
discharge
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JP2013126775A (en
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裕介 坂上
裕介 坂上
新川 修
修 新川
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セイコーエプソン株式会社
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The present invention relates to a droplet discharge method and a droplet discharge apparatus.

  Inkjet printers, which are one type of droplet ejection device, form images on predetermined paper by ejecting ink droplets (droplets) from a plurality of nozzles. A print head (inkjet head) of an ink jet printer is provided with a number of nozzles. However, some nozzles may become visible due to an increase in ink viscosity, air bubbles, dust or paper dust. There are cases where clogged and ink droplets cannot be ejected. When the nozzles are clogged, dots are missing in the printed image, which causes the image quality to deteriorate.

  Conventionally, as a method for detecting such an ink droplet ejection abnormality (hereinafter also referred to as “dot missing”), a state in which ink droplets are not ejected from the nozzles of the inkjet head (ink droplet ejection abnormal state) is determined for each nozzle of the inkjet head. A method for optical detection has been devised (for example, Patent Document 1). By this method, it is possible to identify a nozzle that has a missing dot (ejection abnormality).

  However, in the above-described optical dot dropout (droplet ejection abnormality) detection method, a detector including a light source and an optical sensor is attached to a droplet ejection apparatus (for example, an ink jet printer). In this detection method, in general, a light source and an optical device are arranged such that a droplet discharged from a nozzle of a droplet discharge head (inkjet head) passes between the light source and the optical sensor and blocks light between the light source and the optical sensor. There is a problem that the sensor must be set (installed) with high accuracy (high accuracy). In addition, such a detector is usually expensive, and there is a problem that the manufacturing cost of the ink jet printer increases. Further, the output part of the light source and the detection part of the optical sensor may be contaminated by ink mist from the nozzles or paper dust such as printing paper, and the reliability of the detector may become a problem.

  Furthermore, in the above-described optical dot missing detection method, it is possible to detect nozzle missing dots, that is, ink droplet ejection abnormalities (non-ejections), but based on the detection results, dot missing (ejection abnormalities) is detected. There is also a problem that the cause cannot be specified (determined) and it is impossible to select and execute an appropriate recovery process corresponding to the cause of the missing dot. For this reason, in the conventional dot missing detection method, sequential recovery processing is executed regardless of the cause of dot missing. For example, ink is pumped from the inkjet head even though it can be recovered by wiping processing. This increases the throughput of inkjet printers (droplet ejection devices) by increasing the amount of waste ink (waste ink) and performing multiple recovery processes that are not necessary because appropriate recovery processes are not performed. It will decrease or worsen.

JP-A-8-309963

The object of the present invention is to identify the cause of the ejection abnormality when the ejection abnormality of the droplet ejection head is detected, and execute an appropriate recovery process according to the cause instead of the sequential recovery process as in the prior art. It is another object of the present invention to provide a droplet discharge method and a droplet discharge apparatus that can efficiently check whether or not the droplet discharge head has recovered to a normal state by the recovery process.

Such an object is achieved by the present invention described below.
The detection method of the present invention is a method for detecting a discharge abnormality of a droplet discharge head provided in a droplet discharge device,
The liquid droplet ejection apparatus includes the liquid droplet ejection head, ejection abnormality detection means, and recovery means,
The droplet discharge head changes the pressure in the cavity filled with the liquid by driving the actuator, and discharges the liquid as a droplet from a nozzle communicating with the cavity.
A step of detecting a frequency of a signal corresponding to a change in pressure in the cavity by the discharge abnormality detecting means;
A step of performing recovery processing based on the detected frequency of the signal among a plurality of types of recovery processing on the droplet discharge head by the recovery means;
Have
The frequency of the signal is higher when bubbles are mixed in the cavity than when normal ejection is performed, and when the liquid cannot be ejected due to the liquid adhering to the nozzle, the cavity It is characterized by being lower than when bubbles are mixed in.
In the detection method of the present invention, the step of detecting the signal is performed during a printing operation,
The step of performing the recovery process is preferably performed by interrupting the printing operation.

The droplet discharge device of the present invention includes a droplet discharge head that discharges the liquid as droplets from a nozzle that communicates with the cavity, and the pressure in the cavity filled with the liquid changes by driving of the actuator.
A discharge abnormality detecting means for detecting a frequency of a signal according to a change in pressure in the cavity;
Recovery means for performing recovery processing on the droplet discharge head based on the detected frequency of the signal among a plurality of types of recovery processing;
With
The frequency of the signal is higher when bubbles are mixed in the cavity than when normal ejection is performed, and when the liquid cannot be ejected due to the liquid adhering to the nozzle, the cavity It is characterized by being lower than when bubbles are mixed in.
In the droplet discharge device of the present invention, the detection by the discharge abnormality detection means is performed during the printing operation,
It is preferable that the recovery process by the recovery means is performed by interrupting the printing operation.

The droplet discharge device of the present invention has a plurality of droplets that discharge the liquid as droplets from a nozzle communicating with the cavity by driving an actuator by a drive circuit to change the pressure in the cavity filled with the liquid. A droplet discharge device comprising a discharge head, discharging the droplet from the nozzle while relatively scanning the droplet discharge head and the droplet receiver, and landing on the droplet receiver;
A discharge abnormality detecting means for detecting a discharge abnormality of the droplet from the nozzle and a cause of the discharge abnormality;
A recovery means for performing recovery processing for eliminating droplet discharge abnormality with respect to the droplet discharge head;
A storage unit that associates and stores the nozzle in which the discharge abnormality is detected by the discharge abnormality detection unit and the cause of the discharge abnormality of the nozzle;
The recovery means includes a flushing means for driving the actuator to perform a flushing process for discharging the droplets from the nozzles for cleaning the droplet discharge head;
When detection is performed by the discharge abnormality detection unit for all the nozzles, if there is an abnormal nozzle in which a discharge abnormality has occurred, flushing processing is performed only on the abnormal nozzle regardless of the cause of the abnormal discharge of the abnormal nozzle. After the execution, a droplet discharge operation is performed only on the abnormal nozzle and detection is performed by the discharge abnormality detection means. If there is a re-abnormal nozzle that has not been eliminated, the abnormal discharge of the re-abnormal nozzle is detected. A recovery process according to the cause of at least the re-abnormal nozzle is performed by the recovery unit, and then a droplet discharge operation is performed only on the re-abnormal nozzle, and detection by the discharge abnormality detection unit is performed. It is characterized by.

As a result, when a discharge abnormality of the droplet discharge head is detected, or when the cause of the abnormal discharge of the abnormal nozzle is minor, the abnormal nozzle can be quickly recovered to a normal state by a flushing process. Can do. At this time, since the droplets are not ejected from the normal nozzle, for example, the ejection target liquid such as ink is not wasted.
In addition, after the flushing process, the abnormal nozzle is again detected by the discharge abnormality detecting means to check whether or not the normal state has been restored, so that it is possible to more reliably prevent the occurrence of a discharge abnormality in the subsequent printing operation. be able to. Further, here, only the abnormal nozzle is caused to perform the droplet discharge operation, and the detection by the discharge abnormality detection means is performed, so that it is not necessary to discharge the droplet from the nozzle that was normal in the previous detection. Therefore, it is possible to avoid wasteful discharge of the discharge target liquid, and the consumption of the discharge target liquid can be further reduced.

  Also, as a result of checking whether or not the abnormal nozzle has recovered, if there is a re-abnormal nozzle for which the discharge abnormality has not been resolved, an appropriate recovery process is executed depending on the cause of the discharge abnormality of the re-abnormal nozzle. Unlike the sequential recovery process in the conventional droplet discharge device, it is possible to prevent the discharge target liquid from being discharged unnecessarily during the recovery process, so that the consumption of the discharge target liquid can be further reduced. Further, since unnecessary types of recovery processing are not performed, the time required for the recovery processing can be shortened, and the throughput (number of printed sheets per unit time) of the droplet discharge device can be improved.

  In addition, after the recovery process for the re-abnormal nozzle, the re-abnormal nozzle is again detected by the discharge abnormality detection means to check whether it has recovered to the normal state. It can prevent more reliably. Here, since only the re-abnormal nozzle performs the droplet discharge operation and the detection by the discharge abnormality detection means is performed, it is not necessary to discharge the droplet from the nozzle that was normal in the previous detection. Therefore, it is possible to avoid wasteful discharge of the discharge target liquid, and the consumption of the discharge target liquid can be further reduced. Furthermore, the burden on the discharge abnormality detecting means can be reduced.

In the liquid droplet ejection apparatus according to the aspect of the invention, the recovery unit covers a wiping unit that performs a wiping process of wiping the nozzle surface on which the nozzles of the liquid droplet ejection head are arranged with a wiper, and the nozzle surface of the liquid droplet ejection head Pumping means for performing a pump suction process with a pump connected to the cap,
The cause of the ejection abnormality that can be detected by the ejection abnormality detection means is at least one of the mixing of bubbles into the cavity, the thickening due to the drying of the liquid near the nozzle, and the adhesion of paper dust near the nozzle outlet. Including
The recovery means causes the pump suction process by the pumping means to be executed when the cause of the abnormal discharge of the re-abnormal nozzle is air bubble mixing or dry thickening, and at least the wiping process by the wiper in the case of paper dust adhesion Is preferably executed.

Thereby, the recovery means can select and execute an appropriate and wasteful recovery process from the wiping process, the flushing process, and the pump suction process according to the cause of the ejection abnormality.
In addition, it is possible to perform appropriate and wasteful recovery processing according to each of the causes of ejection abnormalities, such as air bubbles in the cavity, drying / thickening of liquid near the nozzle, and paper dust adhering to the vicinity of the nozzle outlet. it can. In the present invention, “paper dust” is not limited to paper dust generated from recording paper or the like. For example, a piece of rubber such as a paper feed roller (paper feed roller) or dust floating in the air. This means anything that adheres to the vicinity of the nozzle including the above and hinders droplet discharge.

In the droplet discharge device of the present invention, the wiping means is configured to be able to execute the wiping process separately for each of a plurality of nozzle groups, and performs the wiping process according to the cause of the discharge abnormality of the re-abnormal nozzle. When executing, it is preferable to execute the wiping process only for the nozzle group including the re-abnormal nozzle.
As a result, only the nozzle group including the nozzles that require wiping processing can be selectively wiped, so there is no waste and efficient wiping processing compared to the case where all nozzles are collectively wiped. It can be performed.

In the droplet discharge device of the present invention, the pumping means is configured to be able to execute pump suction processing separately for each of a plurality of sets of nozzle groups, and pump suction according to the cause of discharge abnormality of the re-abnormal nozzle. When executing the processing, it is preferable to execute the pump suction processing only for the nozzle group including the re-abnormal nozzle.
As a result, only a group of nozzles including nozzles that require pump suction processing can be selectively pumped, so there is no waste and efficiency compared to the case where pump suction processing is performed for all nozzles at once. A good pump suction process can be performed.

In the droplet discharge device of the present invention, it is preferable that the plurality of sets of nozzle groups have different types of droplets to be discharged.
As a result, wiping processing and pump suction processing can be performed for each nozzle group that discharges different types of discharge target liquids, so that efficient recovery processing can be performed without waste, and different types of discharge target liquids are mixed. Can also be prevented.

In the droplet discharge device of the present invention, when there is a nozzle in which an abnormal discharge is detected as a result of the detection by the abnormal discharge detecting unit, a notification unit that notifies that there has been an abnormal discharge of the droplet from the nozzle It is preferable to provide.
Thereby, it is possible to promptly notify the user (operator) of the occurrence of the discharge abnormality.
In the droplet discharge device of the present invention, the actuator of the droplet discharge head has a diaphragm that can be displaced to change the pressure in the cavity,
Preferably, the ejection abnormality detection means detects residual vibration of the diaphragm, and detects ejection abnormality based on the detected vibration pattern of residual vibration of the diaphragm.
Thereby, it is possible to accurately and reliably detect the ejection abnormality and the cause thereof with a relatively simple configuration.

In the droplet discharge device of the present invention, it is preferable that the actuator is an electrostatic actuator.
Thereby, in the case of a droplet discharge head using an electrostatic actuator, it is possible to accurately and reliably detect a discharge abnormality and its cause with a relatively simple configuration.
In the droplet discharge device of the present invention, it is preferable that the actuator is a piezoelectric actuator using a piezoelectric effect of a piezoelectric element.
Thereby, in the case of a droplet discharge head using a piezoelectric actuator, it is possible to accurately and reliably detect a discharge abnormality and its cause with a relatively simple configuration.

In the liquid droplet ejection apparatus according to the aspect of the invention, it is preferable that the ejection abnormality detection unit includes an oscillation circuit, and the oscillation circuit oscillates based on a capacitance component of the actuator that changes due to residual vibration of the diaphragm. .
Thereby, it is possible to detect the ejection abnormality more accurately with a low-cost and simple circuit configuration.

In the droplet discharge device according to the aspect of the invention, it is preferable that the oscillation circuit constitutes a CR oscillation circuit including a capacitance component of the actuator and a resistance component of a resistance element connected to the actuator.
As a result, the residual vibration of the diaphragm can be detected more accurately, and thereby the ejection abnormality can be detected more accurately.

In the droplet discharge device of the present invention, the actuator of the droplet discharge head includes a heating element that can cause film boiling by heating the liquid filled in the cavity,
The droplet discharge head includes a vibration plate that elastically displaces following a change in pressure in the cavity, and an electrode that is disposed to face the vibration plate.
Preferably, the ejection abnormality detection means detects residual vibration of the diaphragm, and detects ejection abnormality based on the detected vibration pattern of residual vibration of the diaphragm.
As a result, in the case of a thermal jet type droplet discharge head, it is possible to accurately and reliably detect discharge abnormality and its cause with a relatively simple configuration.

In the droplet discharge device according to the aspect of the invention, the discharge abnormality detection unit includes an oscillation circuit, and the capacitance of a capacitor formed by the diaphragm and the electrode varies with time due to residual vibration of the diaphragm. Based on the above, it is preferable that the oscillation circuit oscillates.
Thereby, it is possible to detect the ejection abnormality more accurately with a low-cost and simple circuit configuration.

In the droplet discharge device according to the aspect of the invention, it is preferable that the oscillation circuit constitutes a CR oscillation circuit including a capacitance component of the capacitor and a resistance component of the resistance element.
As a result, the residual vibration of the diaphragm can be detected more accurately, and thereby the ejection abnormality can be detected more accurately.
In the droplet discharge device of the present invention, it is preferable that the vibration pattern of the residual vibration of the diaphragm includes a period of the residual vibration.
Thereby, it is possible to detect the ejection abnormality with higher accuracy.

In the droplet discharge device of the present invention, the discharge abnormality detecting means determines whether or not there is a droplet discharge abnormality of the droplet discharge head based on a vibration pattern of residual vibration of the diaphragm, and the droplet It is preferable to include a determination unit that determines the cause of the ejection abnormality of the droplet ejection head when it is determined that the ejection abnormality of the droplet of the ejection head is present.
This makes it possible to more reliably determine the presence and cause of the ejection abnormality.

In the droplet discharge device of the present invention, when the period of the residual vibration of the diaphragm is shorter than a predetermined range, the determination unit determines that bubbles are mixed in the cavity, and When the period of residual vibration is longer than a predetermined threshold, it is determined that the liquid near the nozzle is thickened by drying, and the period of residual vibration of the diaphragm is longer than the period of the predetermined range. When it is shorter than the threshold value, it is preferable to determine that paper dust has adhered to the vicinity of the nozzle outlet.
As a result, it is possible to determine the cause of the ejection abnormality, for example, the mixing of bubbles into the cavity, the drying / thickening of the liquid near the nozzle, and the adhesion of paper dust near the nozzle outlet.

In the droplet discharge device according to the aspect of the invention, the discharge abnormality detection unit generates a voltage waveform of the residual vibration of the diaphragm by a predetermined signal group generated based on a change in the oscillation frequency in the output signal of the oscillation circuit. It is preferable to include an F / V conversion circuit.
Thereby, when detecting a residual vibration waveform, the detection sensitivity can be set large.

In the liquid droplet ejection apparatus according to the aspect of the invention, it is preferable that the ejection abnormality detection unit includes a waveform shaping circuit that shapes the voltage waveform of the residual vibration of the diaphragm generated by the F / V conversion circuit into a predetermined waveform. .
Thereby, when detecting a residual vibration waveform, the detection sensitivity can be set large.

In the droplet discharge device of the present invention, the waveform shaping circuit includes a DC component removing unit that removes a DC component from the voltage waveform of the residual vibration of the diaphragm generated by the F / V conversion circuit, and the DC component removal. Preferably, the comparator includes a comparator that compares the voltage waveform from which the DC component has been removed with a predetermined voltage value, and the comparator generates and outputs a rectangular wave based on the voltage comparison.
Thereby, when detecting a residual vibration waveform, the detection sensitivity can be set large.

In the liquid droplet ejection apparatus according to the aspect of the invention, it is preferable that the ejection abnormality detection unit includes a measurement unit that measures a period of residual vibration of the diaphragm from the rectangular wave generated by the waveform shaping circuit.
Thereby, the period of the residual vibration of the diaphragm can be detected more easily and more accurately.

In the droplet discharge device of the present invention, the measuring means has a counter, and the counter counts the pulses of the reference signal, whereby the time between the rising edges of the rectangular wave or the time between the rising edge and the falling edge. Is preferably measured.
Thereby, the period of the residual vibration of the diaphragm can be detected more easily and more accurately.
An inkjet printer according to the present invention includes the droplet discharge device according to the present invention.
Thereby, the inkjet printer which can achieve the said effect can be provided.

1 is a schematic diagram illustrating a configuration of an ink jet printer which is a kind of droplet discharge device of the present invention. 1 is a block diagram schematically showing main parts of an ink jet printer of the present invention. FIG. 2 is a schematic cross-sectional view of a head unit (inkjet head) in the inkjet printer shown in FIG. 1. It is a disassembled perspective view which shows the structure of the head unit of FIG. It is an example of the nozzle arrangement pattern of the nozzle plate of the head unit using four color inks. FIG. 4 is a state diagram illustrating each state when a drive signal is input in the III-III cross section of FIG. 3. FIG. 4 is a circuit diagram illustrating a simple vibration calculation model assuming residual vibration of the diaphragm of FIG. 3. It is a graph which shows the relationship between the experimental value of residual vibration in the case of normal discharge of the diaphragm of FIG. 3, and a calculated value. FIG. 4 is a conceptual diagram in the vicinity of a nozzle when bubbles are mixed in the cavity of FIG. 3. It is a graph which shows the calculated value and experimental value of a residual vibration in the state which an ink droplet stops discharging by the bubble mixing in a cavity. FIG. 4 is a conceptual diagram in the vicinity of a nozzle when ink near the nozzle in FIG. 3 is fixed by drying. It is a graph which shows the calculated value and experimental value of a residual vibration in the dry thickening state of the ink of the nozzle vicinity. FIG. 4 is a conceptual diagram of the vicinity of a nozzle when paper dust adheres to the vicinity of the nozzle outlet of FIG. 3. It is a graph which shows the calculated value and experimental value of a residual vibration in the state which paper dust adhered to the nozzle exit. It is a photograph which shows the state of the nozzle before and behind the paper dust adhering to the nozzle vicinity. It is a schematic block diagram of a discharge abnormality detection means. FIG. 4 is a conceptual diagram when the electrostatic actuator of FIG. 3 is a parallel plate capacitor. FIG. 4 is a circuit diagram of an oscillation circuit including a capacitor configured by the electrostatic actuator of FIG. 3. FIG. 17 is a circuit diagram of an F / V conversion circuit of the ejection abnormality detection unit shown in FIG. 16. It is a timing chart which shows the timing of the output signal etc. of each part based on the oscillation frequency output from an oscillation circuit. It is a figure for demonstrating the setting method of fixed time tr and t1. It is a circuit diagram which shows the circuit structure of the waveform shaping circuit of FIG. It is a block diagram which shows the outline of the switching means of a drive circuit and a detection circuit. It is a flowchart which shows discharge abnormality detection and determination processing. It is a flowchart which shows a residual vibration detection process. It is a flowchart which shows a discharge abnormality determination process. It is an example of the timing of ejection abnormality detection of a plurality of inkjet heads (when there is one ejection abnormality detection means). It is an example (when the number of ejection abnormality detection means is the same as the number of inkjet heads) of the timing of ejection abnormality detection of a plurality of inkjet heads. It is an example of the timing of ejection abnormality detection of a plurality of inkjet heads (when ejection abnormality detection is performed when the number of ejection abnormality detection means is the same as the number of inkjet heads and there is print data). It is an example of the timing of ejection abnormality detection of a plurality of inkjet heads (when the number of ejection abnormality detection means is the same as the number of inkjet heads and ejection abnormality detection is performed by circulating through each inkjet head). It is a flowchart which shows the timing of the discharge abnormality detection at the time of the flushing operation | movement of the inkjet printer shown in FIG. FIG. 30 is a flowchart showing the timing of ejection abnormality detection during the flushing operation of the ink jet printer shown in FIGS. 28 and 29. FIG. FIG. 31 is a flowchart showing the timing of ejection abnormality detection during the flushing operation of the inkjet printer shown in FIG. 30. FIG. FIG. 30 is a flowchart showing the timing of ejection abnormality detection during the printing operation of the ink jet printer shown in FIGS. 28 and 29. FIG. FIG. 31 is a flowchart showing the timing of ejection abnormality detection during the printing operation of the ink jet printer shown in FIG. 30. FIG. FIG. 2 is a diagram illustrating a schematic structure (partially omitted) viewed from above the ink jet printer illustrated in FIG. 1. It is a figure which shows the positional relationship of the wiper shown in FIG. 36, and a head unit. It is a figure which shows the relationship between a head unit, a cap, and a pump at the time of a pump suction process. It is the schematic which shows the structure of the tube pump shown in FIG. 6 is a flowchart illustrating a discharge abnormality recovery process in the inkjet printer of the present invention. FIG. 4 is a diagram for explaining another configuration example of a wiper (wiping means), (a) showing a nozzle surface of a printing means (head unit), and (b) showing a wiper. It is a figure which shows the operating state of the wiper shown in FIG. It is a figure for demonstrating the other structural example of a pumping means. It is sectional drawing which shows the outline of the other structural example of the inkjet head in this invention. It is sectional drawing which shows the outline of the other structural example of the inkjet head in this invention. It is sectional drawing which shows the outline of the other structural example of the inkjet head in this invention. It is sectional drawing which shows the outline of the other structural example of the inkjet head in this invention. It is a perspective view which shows the structure of the head unit in 3rd Embodiment. It is sectional drawing of the head unit (inkjet head) shown in FIG.

  Hereinafter, preferred embodiments of the droplet discharge device and the ink jet printer of the present invention will be described in detail with reference to FIGS. Note that this embodiment is given as an example, and the contents of the present invention should not be construed in a limited manner. In the following, in this embodiment, as an example, an ink jet printer that discharges ink (liquid material) and prints an image on recording paper (droplet receiver) will be described.

<First Embodiment>
FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram showing a configuration of an ink jet printer 1 which is a kind of droplet discharge device according to the first embodiment of the present invention. In the following description, in FIG. 1, the upper side is referred to as “upper part” and the lower side is referred to as “lower part”. First, the configuration of the inkjet printer 1 will be described.
An ink jet printer 1 shown in FIG. 1 includes an apparatus main body 2, a tray 21 in which recording paper P is placed at the upper rear, a paper discharge outlet 22 for discharging recording paper P in the lower front, and an operation panel on the upper surface. 7 is provided.

The operation panel 7 includes, for example, a liquid crystal display, an organic EL display, an LED lamp, and the like, and a display unit (not shown) for displaying an error message and the like, and an operation unit (not shown) configured with various switches and the like. And. The display unit of the operation panel 7 functions as a notification unit.
Further, inside the apparatus main body 2, a printing apparatus (printing means) 4 that mainly includes a reciprocating printing means (moving body) 3 and a paper feeding apparatus that supplies and discharges recording paper P to and from the printing apparatus 4. (Droplet Receptor Conveying Means) 5 and a control unit (control means) 6 for controlling the printing device 4 and the paper feeding device 5.

  Under the control of the control unit 6, the paper feeding device 5 intermittently feeds the recording paper P one by one. This recording paper P passes near the lower part of the printing means 3. At this time, the printing unit 3 reciprocates in a direction substantially perpendicular to the feeding direction of the recording paper P, and printing on the recording paper P is performed. That is, the reciprocating motion of the printing unit 3 and the intermittent feeding of the recording paper P are the main scanning and the sub scanning in printing, and ink jet printing is performed.

The printing apparatus 4 includes a printing unit 3, a carriage motor 41 serving as a driving source for moving (reciprocating) the printing unit 3 in the main scanning direction, and a reciprocating operation for reciprocating the printing unit 3 in response to the rotation of the carriage motor 41. Moving mechanism 42.
The printing unit 3 includes a plurality of head units 35, an ink cartridge (I / C) 31 that supplies ink to each head unit 35, and a carriage 32 that mounts each head unit 35 and the ink cartridge 31. . In the case of an ink jet printer that consumes a large amount of ink, the ink cartridge 31 is not mounted on the carriage 32 but is installed at a different location so that ink is supplied to the head unit 35 via a tube. It is good (not shown).

  Note that full-color printing is possible by using an ink cartridge 31 filled with ink of four colors of yellow, cyan, magenta, and black (black). In this case, the printing unit 3 is provided with a head unit 35 (this configuration will be described in detail later) corresponding to each color. Here, although four ink cartridges 31 corresponding to four colors of ink are shown in FIG. 1, the printing means 3 may be ink cartridges of other colors such as light cyan, light magenta, dark yellow, and special color inks. 31 may be further provided.

The reciprocating mechanism 42 includes a carriage guide shaft 422 supported at both ends by a frame (not shown), and a timing belt 421 extending in parallel with the carriage guide shaft 422.
The carriage 32 is supported by the carriage guide shaft 422 of the reciprocating mechanism 42 so as to be reciprocally movable, and is fixed to a part of the timing belt 421.

  When the timing belt 421 travels forward and backward via a pulley by the operation of the carriage motor 41, the printing unit 3 is reciprocated by being guided by the carriage guide shaft 422. During this reciprocation, ink droplets are appropriately ejected from each inkjet head 100 of the head unit 35 corresponding to the image data (print data) to be printed, and printing on the recording paper P is performed.

The sheet feeding device 5 includes a sheet feeding motor 51 serving as a driving source thereof, and a sheet feeding roller 52 that is rotated by the operation of the sheet feeding motor 51.
The paper feeding roller 52 includes a driven roller 52 a and a driving roller 52 b that are vertically opposed to each other with a conveyance path (recording paper P) for the recording paper P interposed therebetween. The driving roller 52 b is connected to the paper feeding motor 51. As a result, the paper feed roller 52 feeds a large number of recording sheets P set on the tray 21 one by one toward the printing apparatus 4 and discharges them one by one from the printing apparatus 4. Instead of the tray 21, a configuration may be adopted in which a paper feed cassette that stores the recording paper P can be detachably mounted.
Further, the paper feed motor 51 also feeds the recording paper P according to the resolution of the image in conjunction with the reciprocating operation of the printing unit 3. The paper feeding operation and the paper feeding operation can be performed by different motors, respectively, or can be performed by the same motor depending on a component for switching torque transmission such as an electromagnetic clutch.

  For example, the control unit 6 controls the printing device 4, the paper feeding device 5, and the like on the basis of print data input from a host computer 8 such as a personal computer (PC) or a digital camera (DC). The printing process is performed. Further, the control unit 6 displays an error message or the like on the display unit of the operation panel 7 or turns on / flashes the LED lamp or the like, and performs corresponding processing based on pressing signals of various switches input from the operation unit. Is executed by each unit. Furthermore, the control unit 6 may transfer information such as an error message or ejection abnormality to the host computer 8 as necessary.

  FIG. 2 is a block diagram schematically showing the main part of the ink jet printer of the present invention. In FIG. 2, the inkjet printer 1 of the present invention drives an interface unit (IF) 9 that receives print data input from a host computer 8, a control unit 6, a carriage motor 41, and a carriage motor 41. Carriage motor driver 43 to control, paper feed motor 51, paper feed motor driver 53 to drive and control the paper feed motor 51, head unit 35, head driver 33 to drive and control the head unit 35, and ejection abnormality detection means 10, recovery means 24, and operation panel 7. Details of the ejection abnormality detection means 10, the recovery means 24, and the head driver 33 will be described later.

  In FIG. 2, the control unit 6 includes a CPU (Central Processing Unit) 61 that executes various processes such as a printing process and an ejection abnormality detection process, and print data input from the host computer 8 via the IF 9. Various types of data are temporarily stored when executing EEPROM (Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory) (storage means) 62, which is a kind of nonvolatile semiconductor memory stored in the storage area, and ejection abnormality detection processing described later. Alternatively, a RAM (Random Access Memory) 63 that temporarily develops an application program such as a printing process, and a PROM 64 that is a kind of nonvolatile semiconductor memory that stores a control program for controlling each unit and the like are provided. Each component of the control unit 6 is electrically connected via a bus (not shown).

  As described above, the printing unit 3 includes a plurality of head units 35 corresponding to the inks of the respective colors. Each head unit 35 includes a plurality of nozzles 110 and electrostatic actuators 120 respectively corresponding to the nozzles 110. That is, the head unit 35 includes a plurality of inkjet heads 100 (droplet ejection heads) each having a set of nozzles 110 and electrostatic actuators 120. The head driver 33 includes a drive circuit 18 that drives the electrostatic actuator 120 of each inkjet head 100 to control ink ejection timing, and a switching unit 23 (see FIG. 16). The configuration of the electrostatic actuator 120 will be described later.

Although not shown, the control unit 6 is electrically connected to various sensors that can detect the remaining amount of ink in the ink cartridge 31, the position of the printing unit 3, the printing environment such as temperature, humidity, and the like. ing.
When the control unit 6 obtains print data from the host computer 8 via the IF 9, the control unit 6 stores the print data in the EEPROM 62. The CPU 61 executes a predetermined process on the print data and outputs a drive signal to each of the drivers 33, 43, and 53 based on the process data and input data from various sensors. When these drive signals are input via the drivers 33, 43, 53, the plurality of electrostatic actuators 120 of the head unit 35, the carriage motor 41 of the printing device 4, and the paper feeding device 5 are operated. Thereby, the printing process is executed on the recording paper P.

  Next, the structure of each head unit 35 in the printing unit 3 will be described. 3 is a schematic sectional view of the head unit 35 (inkjet head 100) shown in FIG. 1, and FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view showing a schematic configuration of the head unit 35 corresponding to one color ink. FIG. 5 is a plan view showing an example of the nozzle surface of the printing means 3 to which the head unit 35 shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 is applied. 3 and 4 are shown upside down from a state in which they are normally used.

  As shown in FIG. 3, the head unit 35 is connected to the ink cartridge 31 via the ink intake 131, the damper chamber 130, and the ink supply tube 311. Here, the damper chamber 130 includes a damper 132 made of rubber. The damper chamber 130 can absorb ink shaking and ink pressure changes when the carriage 32 reciprocates, thereby stably supplying a predetermined amount of ink to the head unit 35.

  The head unit 35 has a silicon nozzle plate 150 on the upper side and a borosilicate glass substrate (glass substrate) 160 having a thermal expansion coefficient close to that of silicon on the lower side, with the silicon substrate 140 interposed therebetween. It has a three-layer structure. The central silicon substrate 140 has a plurality of independent cavities (pressure chambers) 141 (seven cavities are shown in FIG. 4), one reservoir (common ink chamber) 143, and the reservoir 143 for each cavity 141. Grooves each functioning as an ink supply port (orifice) 142 to be communicated are formed. Each groove can be formed by performing an etching process from the surface of the silicon substrate 140, for example. The nozzle plate 150, the silicon substrate 140, and the glass substrate 160 are joined in this order, and each cavity 141, reservoir 143, and each ink supply port 142 are partitioned.

  Each of these cavities 141 is formed in a strip shape (cuboid shape), and its volume is variable by vibration (displacement) of a vibration plate 121 described later, and ink (liquid material) is discharged from the nozzle 110 by this volume change. It is comprised so that it may discharge. In the nozzle plate 150, nozzles 110 are formed at positions corresponding to the tip side portions of the cavities 141, and these communicate with the cavities 141. Further, an ink intake port 131 communicating with the reservoir 143 is formed in a portion of the glass substrate 160 where the reservoir 143 is located. Ink is supplied from the ink cartridge 31 to the reservoir 143 through the ink supply tube 311 and the damper chamber 130 through the ink intake 131. The ink supplied to the reservoir 143 is supplied to each independent cavity 141 through each ink supply port 142. Each cavity 141 is defined by a nozzle plate 150, a side wall (partition wall) 144, and a bottom wall 121.

  Each independent cavity 141 has a thin bottom wall 121. The bottom wall 121 can be elastically deformed (elastically displaced) in the out-of-plane direction (thickness direction), that is, in the vertical direction in FIG. It is configured to function as a diaphragm (diaphragm). Therefore, this bottom wall 121 portion is sometimes referred to as a diaphragm 121 for convenience of the following description (that is, hereinafter, reference numeral 121 is used for both “bottom wall” and “diaphragm”). ).

  On the surface of the glass substrate 160 on the silicon substrate 140 side, shallow concave portions 161 are formed at positions corresponding to the cavities 141 of the silicon substrate 140, respectively. Therefore, the bottom wall 121 of each cavity 141 is opposed to the surface of the opposing wall 162 of the glass substrate 160 in which the recess 161 is formed, with a predetermined gap therebetween. That is, a gap having a predetermined thickness (for example, about 0.2 microns) exists between the bottom wall 121 of the cavity 141 and the segment electrode 122 described later. In addition, the said recessed part 161 can be formed by an etching etc., for example.

Here, the bottom wall (diaphragm) 121 of each cavity 141 constitutes a part of the common electrode 124 on the side of each cavity 141 for storing charges in accordance with a drive signal supplied from the head driver 33. That is, the diaphragm 121 of each cavity 141 also serves as one of the counter electrodes (capacitor counter electrodes) of the corresponding electrostatic actuator 120 described later. A segment electrode 122, which is an electrode facing the common electrode 124, is formed on the surface of the recess 161 of the glass substrate 160 so as to face the bottom wall 121 of each cavity 141. As shown in FIG. 3, the surface of the bottom wall 121 of each cavity 141 is covered with an insulating layer 123 made of a silicon oxide film (SiO 2 ). As described above, the bottom wall 121 of each cavity 141, that is, the diaphragm 121 and each segment electrode 122 corresponding thereto, are formed on the insulating layer 123 formed on the lower surface of the bottom wall 121 of the cavity 141 in FIG. 3. The counter electrode (the counter electrode of the capacitor) is formed (configured) through the gap and the gap in the recess 161. Therefore, the main part of the electrostatic actuator 120 is constituted by the diaphragm 121, the segment electrode 122, the insulating layer 123 and the gap therebetween.

  As shown in FIG. 3, the head driver 33 including the drive circuit 18 for applying a drive voltage between these counter electrodes responds to a print signal (print data) input from the control unit 6. Charge and discharge between the counter electrodes. One output terminal of the head driver (voltage applying means) 33 is connected to each segment electrode 122, and the other output terminal is connected to the input terminal 124 a of the common electrode 124 formed on the silicon substrate 140. Note that since impurities are implanted into the silicon substrate 140 and itself has conductivity, a voltage can be supplied from the input terminal 124 a of the common electrode 124 to the common electrode 124 of the bottom wall 121. For example, a thin film of a conductive material such as gold or copper may be formed on one surface of the silicon substrate 140. As a result, voltage (charge) can be supplied to the common electrode 124 with low electrical resistance (efficiently). This thin film may be formed, for example, by vapor deposition or sputtering. Here, in the present embodiment, for example, the silicon substrate 140 and the glass substrate 160 are bonded (bonded) by anodic bonding. Therefore, the conductive film used as an electrode in the anodic bonding is formed on the flow path forming surface side of the silicon substrate 140 (see FIG. 3 on the upper side of the silicon substrate 140 shown in FIG. The conductive film is used as it is as the input terminal 124a of the common electrode 124. In the present invention, for example, the input terminal 124a of the common electrode 124 may be omitted, and the method for bonding the silicon substrate 140 and the glass substrate 160 is not limited to anodic bonding.

  As shown in FIG. 4, the head unit 35 includes a nozzle plate 150 in which a plurality of nozzles 110 are formed, a silicon substrate (an ink chamber) in which a plurality of cavities 141, a plurality of ink supply ports 142, and a reservoir 143 are formed. Substrate) 140 and insulating layer 123, which are housed in a base 170 including a glass substrate 160. The base 170 is made of, for example, various resin materials, various metal materials, and the like, and the silicon substrate 140 is fixed and supported on the base 170.

  The nozzles 110 formed on the nozzle plate 150 are linearly arranged substantially parallel to the reservoir 143 for the sake of brevity in FIG. 4, but the nozzle arrangement pattern is not limited to this configuration, For example, the nozzles are arranged at different stages as in the nozzle arrangement pattern shown in FIG. Further, the pitch between the nozzles 110 can be appropriately set according to the printing resolution (dpi: dot per inch). FIG. 5 shows an arrangement pattern of the nozzles 110 when four colors of ink (ink cartridge 31) are applied.

  FIG. 6 shows each state when a drive signal is input in the III-III cross section of FIG. When a driving voltage is applied between the counter electrodes from the head driver 33, a Coulomb force is generated between the counter electrodes, and the bottom wall (diaphragm) 121 is segmented with respect to the initial state (FIG. 6A). It bends to 122 side and the volume of the cavity 141 expands (FIG.6 (b)). In this state, when the electric charge between the counter electrodes is suddenly discharged under the control of the head driver 33, the diaphragm 121 is restored upward in the figure by its elastic restoring force and exceeds the position of the diaphragm 121 in the initial state. Then, the volume of the cavity 141 rapidly contracts (FIG. 6C). At this time, due to the compression pressure generated in the cavity 141, a part of the ink (liquid material) filling the cavity 141 is ejected as an ink droplet from the nozzle 110 communicating with the cavity 141.

  The diaphragm 121 of each cavity 141 is attenuated by this series of operations (ink discharge operation by the drive signal of the head driver 33) until the next drive signal (drive voltage) is input and ink droplets are discharged again. It is vibrating. Hereinafter, this damped vibration is also referred to as residual vibration. The residual vibration of the vibration plate 121 is determined by the shape of the nozzle 110 and the ink supply port 142 or the acoustic resistance r due to the ink viscosity, the inertance m due to the ink weight in the flow path, and the compliance Cm of the vibration plate 121. It is assumed to have a natural vibration frequency.

  A calculation model of residual vibration of the diaphragm 121 based on the above assumption will be described. FIG. 7 is a circuit diagram showing a calculation model of simple vibration assuming residual vibration of the diaphragm 121. Thus, the calculation model of the residual vibration of the diaphragm 121 can be expressed by the sound pressure P, the above-described inertance m, compliance Cm, and acoustic resistance r. When the step response when the sound pressure P is applied to the circuit of FIG. 7 is calculated for the volume velocity u, the following equation is obtained.

  The calculation result obtained from this equation is compared with the experimental result in the residual vibration experiment of the vibration plate 121 after the ink droplets are separately ejected. FIG. 8 is a graph showing the relationship between the experimental value and the calculated value of the residual vibration of the diaphragm 121. As can be seen from the graph shown in FIG. 8, the two waveforms of the experimental value and the calculated value are almost the same.

  Now, in each inkjet head 100 of the head unit 35, a phenomenon that ink droplets are not normally ejected from the nozzles 110 in spite of performing the ejection operation as described above, that is, a droplet ejection abnormality may occur. As described below, the cause of the occurrence of the ejection abnormality is (1) mixing of bubbles in the cavity 141, (2) drying / thickening (fixing) of ink near the nozzle 110, and (3) the nozzle 110. Examples include adhesion of paper dust to the vicinity of the exit.

  When this ejection abnormality occurs, typically, as a result, a droplet is not ejected from the nozzle 110, that is, a droplet non-ejection phenomenon appears. In this case, in the image printed (drawn) on the recording paper P Dot loss of pixels occurs. Further, in the case of abnormal discharge, even if droplets are ejected from the nozzle 110, the amount of droplets is too small or the flight direction (ballistic) of the droplets is shifted, so that they do not land properly. It still appears as missing pixels in the pixels. For this reason, in the following description, the droplet ejection abnormality is sometimes simply referred to as “dot missing”.

In the following, based on the comparison results shown in FIG. 8, the vibration plate 121 remains for each cause of the dot dropout (discharge abnormality) phenomenon (droplet non-discharge phenomenon) that occurs in the nozzle 110 of the inkjet head 100 during the printing process. The value of the acoustic resistance r and / or the inertance m is adjusted so that the calculated value of vibration and the experimental value match (substantially match).
First, the mixing of bubbles into the cavity 141, which is one cause of missing dots, is examined. FIG. 9 is a conceptual diagram of the vicinity of the nozzle 110 when the bubbles B are mixed in the cavity 141 of FIG. As shown in FIG. 9, it is assumed that the generated bubble B is generated and attached to the wall surface of the cavity 141 (in FIG. 9, as an example of the attachment position of the bubble B, the bubble B is near the nozzle 110. Shows the case of adhesion).

Thus, when bubbles B are mixed in the cavity 141, it is considered that the total weight of the ink filling the cavity 141 is reduced and the inertance m is reduced. Further, since the bubbles B are attached to the wall surface of the cavity 141, it is considered that the diameter of the nozzle 110 is increased by the size of the diameter, and the acoustic resistance r is lowered.
Therefore, with respect to the case of FIG. 8 in which the ink is normally ejected, by setting both the acoustic resistance r and the inertance m to be small and matching with the experimental value of the residual vibration at the time of bubble mixing, as shown in FIG. A result (graph) was obtained. As can be seen from the graphs of FIGS. 8 and 10, when bubbles are mixed in the cavity 141, a characteristic residual vibration waveform having a frequency higher than that during normal ejection can be obtained. It should be noted that the attenuation rate of the amplitude of the residual vibration is reduced due to the decrease in the acoustic resistance r, and it can be confirmed that the residual vibration is slowly decreasing the amplitude.

  Next, the drying (fixing and thickening) of the ink near the nozzle 110, which is another cause of missing dots, will be examined. FIG. 11 is a conceptual diagram in the vicinity of the nozzle 110 when the ink in the vicinity of the nozzle 110 in FIG. 3 is fixed by drying. As shown in FIG. 11, when the ink in the vicinity of the nozzle 110 is dried and fixed, the ink in the cavity 141 is confined in the cavity 141. Thus, it is considered that the acoustic resistance r increases when the ink near the nozzle 110 is dried and thickened.

  Therefore, with respect to the case of FIG. 8 in which the ink has been ejected normally, the acoustic resistance r is set to be large and matched with the experimental value of the residual vibration at the time of ink dry adhesion (thickening) near the nozzle 110, The result (graph) as shown in FIG. 12 was obtained. Note that the experimental values shown in FIG. 12 indicate that the head unit 35 was left without a cap (not shown) for several days, and the ink near the nozzle 110 was dried and thickened, so that it was not possible to eject the ink ( This is a measurement of the residual vibration of the diaphragm 121 in a state where the ink is fixed. As can be seen from the graphs of FIGS. 8 and 12, when the ink near the nozzle 110 is fixed by drying, the frequency becomes extremely lower than that during normal ejection, and the characteristic residual vibration in which the residual vibration is overdamped. A waveform is obtained. This is because the vibration plate 121 is pulled downward in FIG. 3 to eject ink droplets, and thus the vibration plate 121 moves upward in FIG. 3 after ink flows from the reservoir 143 into the cavity 141. This is because the diaphragm 121 cannot vibrate abruptly because there is no escape route for ink in the cavity 141 (because it is overdamped).

  Next, paper dust adhesion near the nozzle 110 exit, which is yet another cause of missing dots, will be examined. FIG. 13 is a conceptual diagram of the vicinity of the nozzle 110 when paper dust adheres to the vicinity of the nozzle 110 outlet of FIG. As shown in FIG. 13, when paper dust adheres to the vicinity of the outlet of the nozzle 110, the ink oozes out from the cavity 141 through the paper dust, and ink cannot be ejected from the nozzle 110. As described above, when paper dust adheres near the outlet of the nozzle 110 and ink is oozed out from the nozzle 110, the ink in the cavities 141 and the amount of the oozing out from the normal state as seen from the vibration plate 121 increases. Thus, the inertance m is considered to increase. Further, it is considered that the acoustic resistance r is increased by the fiber of the paper powder adhering to the vicinity of the outlet of the nozzle 110.

  Therefore, with respect to the case of FIG. 8 in which the ink has been ejected normally, both the inertance m and the acoustic resistance r are set large to match the experimental value of the residual vibration when paper dust adheres to the vicinity of the nozzle 110 exit. As a result, a result (graph) as shown in FIG. 14 was obtained. As can be seen from the graphs of FIGS. 8 and 14, when paper dust adheres to the vicinity of the outlet of the nozzle 110, a characteristic residual vibration waveform having a frequency lower than that during normal ejection is obtained (here, paper It can also be seen from the graphs of FIGS. 12 and 14 that the residual vibration frequency is higher in the case of powder adhesion than in the case of ink drying. FIG. 15 is a photograph showing the state of the nozzle 110 before and after the paper dust adheres. When paper dust adheres to the vicinity of the outlet of the nozzle 110, a state where ink oozes out along the paper dust can be found from FIG.

  Here, in the case where the ink near the nozzle 110 is dried and thickened, and in the case where the paper dust adheres to the vicinity of the outlet of the nozzle 110, both of the vibrations of attenuation are compared with the case where the ink droplet is normally ejected. The frequency is low. In order to identify the cause of these two missing dots (ink non-ejection: ejection abnormality) from the residual vibration waveform of the diaphragm 121, for example, a comparison is made with a predetermined threshold in the frequency, period and phase of the damped vibration. Alternatively, it can be specified from the periodic change of residual vibration (damped vibration) or the attenuation rate of amplitude change. In this way, the ejection abnormality of each inkjet head 100 is detected by the change in the residual vibration of the diaphragm 121 when the ink droplets from the nozzles 110 in each inkjet head 100 are ejected, in particular, by the change in the frequency. Can do. Further, by comparing the residual vibration frequency in that case with the residual vibration frequency during normal ejection, the cause of the ejection abnormality can be specified.

  Next, the ejection abnormality detection means 10 will be described. FIG. 16 is a schematic block diagram of the ejection abnormality detecting means 10 shown in FIG. As shown in FIG. 16, the ejection abnormality detection unit 10 includes a residual vibration detection unit 16 including an oscillation circuit 11, an F / V conversion circuit 12, and a waveform shaping circuit 15, and the residual vibration detection unit 16. Measuring means 17 for measuring the period, amplitude and the like from the residual vibration waveform data detected by the above, and a determination means 20 for determining an ejection abnormality of the inkjet head 100 based on the period measured by the measuring means 17. Yes. In the ejection abnormality detection means 10, the residual vibration detection means 16 oscillates from the oscillation circuit 11 based on the residual vibration of the diaphragm 121 of the electrostatic actuator 120, and the F / V conversion circuit 12 and the waveform shaping circuit from the oscillation frequency. At 15, a vibration waveform is formed and detected. The measuring unit 17 measures the residual vibration period based on the detected vibration waveform, and the determination unit 20 determines the head units 35 in the printing unit 3 based on the measured residual vibration period. An ejection abnormality of each inkjet head 100 included in the is detected and determined. Hereinafter, each component of the ejection abnormality detection means 10 will be described.

  First, a method of using the oscillation circuit 11 to detect the frequency (frequency) of residual vibration of the diaphragm 121 of the electrostatic actuator 120 will be described. FIG. 17 is a conceptual diagram when the electrostatic actuator 120 of FIG. 3 is a parallel plate capacitor, and FIG. 18 is a circuit diagram of the oscillation circuit 11 including a capacitor composed of the electrostatic actuator 120 of FIG. . The oscillation circuit 11 shown in FIG. 18 is a CR oscillation circuit that uses the Schmitt trigger hysteresis characteristics. However, the present invention is not limited to such a CR oscillation circuit, and the electrostatic circuit of an actuator (including a diaphragm) is used. Any oscillation circuit may be used as long as the oscillation circuit uses a capacitance component (capacitor C). The oscillation circuit 11 may have a configuration using an LC oscillation circuit, for example. In the present embodiment, an example using a Schmitt trigger inverter is shown and described. However, for example, a CR oscillation circuit using three stages of inverters may be configured.

In the inkjet head 100 shown in FIG. 3, as described above, the diaphragm 121 and the segment electrode 122 separated by a very small space (gap) constitute the electrostatic actuator 120 that forms the counter electrode. The electrostatic actuator 120 can be considered as a parallel plate capacitor as shown in FIG. The capacitance of this capacitor is C, the surface area of each of the diaphragm 121 and the segment electrode 122 is S, the distance (gap length) between the two electrodes 121 and 122 is g, and the dielectric in the space (gap) sandwiched between both electrodes When the rate is ε (where ε 0 is the dielectric constant of the vacuum and ε r is the dielectric constant of the air gap, ε = ε 0 · ε r ), the capacitance C of the capacitor (electrostatic actuator 120) shown in FIG. (X) is represented by the following equation.

Note that x in Expression (4) indicates the amount of displacement from the reference position of the diaphragm 121 caused by the residual vibration of the diaphragm 121 as shown in FIG.
As can be seen from the equation (4), when the gap length g (gap length g−displacement amount x) is decreased, the capacitance C (x) is increased, and conversely, the gap length g (gap length g−displacement amount). As x) increases, the capacitance C (x) decreases. Thus, the capacitance C (x) is inversely proportional to (gap length g−displacement amount x) (gap length g when x is 0). In the electrostatic actuator 120 shown in FIG. 3, since the air gap is filled with air, the relative dielectric constant ε r = 1.

In general, as the resolution of the droplet discharge device (in the present embodiment, the ink jet printer 1) increases, the discharged ink droplets (ink dots) are miniaturized. And miniaturized. Accordingly, the surface area S of the vibration plate 121 of the inkjet head 100 is reduced, and a small electrostatic actuator 120 is configured. Furthermore, since the gap length g of the electrostatic actuator 120 that changes due to residual vibration due to ink droplet ejection is about 10% of the initial gap g 0 , the capacitance of the electrostatic actuator 120 can be seen from equation (4). The amount of change in is very small.

  In order to detect the amount of change in the capacitance of the electrostatic actuator 120 (depending on the vibration pattern of residual vibration), the following method, that is, based on the capacitance of the electrostatic actuator 120, as shown in FIG. A simple oscillation circuit is constructed, and a method of analyzing the frequency (period) of residual vibration based on the oscillated signal is used. The oscillation circuit 11 shown in FIG. 18 includes a capacitor (C) including an electrostatic actuator 120, a Schmitt trigger inverter 111, and a resistance element (R) 112.

When the output signal of the Schmitt trigger inverter 111 is at a high level, the capacitor C is charged via the resistance element 112. When the charging voltage of the capacitor C (potential difference between the diaphragm 121 and the segment electrode 122) reaches the input threshold voltage V T + of the Schmitt trigger inverter 111, the output signal of the Schmitt trigger inverter 111 is inverted to the Low level. Then, when the output signal of the Schmitt trigger inverter 111 becomes a low level, the charge charged in the capacitor C is discharged through the resistance element 112. When the voltage of the capacitor C reaches the input threshold voltage V T − of the Schmitt trigger inverter 111 due to this discharge, the output signal of the Schmitt trigger inverter 111 is inverted again to the High level. Thereafter, this oscillation operation is repeated.

  Here, in order to detect the time change of the capacitance of the capacitor C in each of the above-mentioned phenomena (bubble mixing, drying, paper dust adhesion, and normal ejection), the oscillation frequency by the oscillation circuit 11 is the residual vibration. It is necessary to set the oscillation frequency that can detect the frequency at the time of bubble mixing (see FIG. 10) having the highest frequency. For this reason, the oscillation frequency of the oscillation circuit 11 must be, for example, several times to several tens of times the frequency of the residual vibration to be detected, that is, about one digit higher than the frequency when bubbles are mixed. In this case, it is preferable to set the residual vibration frequency at the time of bubble mixing to a detectable oscillation frequency because the frequency of the residual vibration at the time of bubble mixing is higher than that at the time of normal ejection. Otherwise, an accurate residual vibration frequency cannot be detected for the phenomenon of abnormal discharge. Therefore, in this embodiment, the CR time constant of the oscillation circuit 11 is set according to the oscillation frequency. In this way, by setting the oscillation frequency of the oscillation circuit 11 high, a more accurate residual vibration waveform can be detected based on the minute change in the oscillation frequency.

Incidentally, in each period of the oscillation frequency of the oscillation signal outputted from the oscillation circuit 11 (pulse), counts the pulses by using a measuring count pulse (counter), the capacitance of the capacitor C in the initial gap g 0 By subtracting the count amount of the pulse at the oscillation frequency when oscillating at, the digital information for each oscillation frequency is obtained for the residual vibration waveform. A rough residual vibration waveform can be generated by performing digital / analog (D / A) conversion based on the digital information. Although such a method may be used, a count pulse (counter) for measurement requires a high frequency (high resolution) capable of measuring a minute change in oscillation frequency. In order to increase the cost of such a count pulse (counter), the ejection abnormality detection means 10 uses the F / V conversion circuit 12 shown in FIG.

  FIG. 19 is a circuit diagram of the F / V conversion circuit 12 of the ejection abnormality detection means 10 shown in FIG. As shown in FIG. 19, the F / V conversion circuit 12 includes three switches SW1, SW2, and SW3, two capacitors C1 and C2, a resistance element R1, and a constant current source 13 that outputs a constant current Is. And the buffer 14. The operation of the F / V conversion circuit 12 will be described with reference to the timing chart of FIG. 20 and the graph of FIG.

  First, a method for generating the charge signal, hold signal, and clear signal shown in the timing chart of FIG. 20 will be described. The charging signal is generated so as to set a fixed time tr from the rising edge of the oscillation pulse of the oscillation circuit 11 and to be at a high level during the fixed time tr. The hold signal rises in synchronization with the rising edge of the charging signal, is held at the high level for a predetermined fixed time, and is generated so as to fall to the low level. The clear signal rises in synchronization with the falling edge of the hold signal, is held at the high level for a predetermined fixed time, and is generated so as to fall to the low level. As will be described later, since the charge transfer from the capacitor C1 to the capacitor C2 and the discharge of the capacitor C1 are performed instantaneously, the pulses of the hold signal and the clear signal are until the next rising edge of the output signal of the oscillation circuit 11. It is sufficient that each pulse includes one pulse, and it is not limited to the rising edge and the falling edge as described above.

In order to obtain a clean residual vibration waveform (voltage waveform), a method of setting the fixed times tr and t1 will be described with reference to FIG. The fixed time tr is adjusted from the period of the oscillation pulse oscillated by the capacitance C when the electrostatic actuator 120 has the initial gap length g 0 , and the charging potential due to the charging time t1 is about half of the charging range of C1. Is set to be Further, the charging potential gradient is set so as not to exceed the charging range of the capacitor C1 between the charging time t2 at the position where the gap length g is the maximum (Max) and the charging time t3 at the position where the gap length g is the minimum (Min). That is, since the gradient of the charging potential is determined by dV / dt = Is / C1, the output constant current Is of the constant current source 13 may be set to an appropriate value. By setting the output constant current Is of the constant current source 13 as high as possible within the range, a minute change in the capacitance of the capacitor constituted by the electrostatic actuator 120 can be detected with high sensitivity. It becomes possible to detect a minute change in the diaphragm 121 of the electric actuator 120.

  Next, the configuration of the waveform shaping circuit 15 shown in FIG. 16 will be described with reference to FIG. FIG. 22 is a circuit diagram showing a circuit configuration of the waveform shaping circuit 15 of FIG. This waveform shaping circuit 15 outputs the residual vibration waveform to the determination means 20 as a rectangular wave. As shown in FIG. 22, the waveform shaping circuit 15 includes two capacitors C3 (DC component removing means) and C4, two resistance elements R2 and R3, two DC voltage sources Vref1 and Vref2, and an amplifier (an operational amplifier). ) 151 and a comparator (comparator) 152. In the waveform shaping process of the residual vibration waveform, the detected peak value may be output as it is, and the amplitude of the residual vibration waveform may be measured.

The output of the buffer 14 of the F / V conversion circuit 12 includes a capacitance component of a DC component (DC component) based on the initial gap g 0 of the electrostatic actuator 120. Since the direct current component varies depending on each ink jet head 100, the capacitor C3 removes the direct current component of the capacitance. The capacitor C3 removes the DC component in the output signal of the buffer 14 and outputs only the AC component of the residual vibration to the inverting input terminal of the operational amplifier 151.

  The operational amplifier 151 constitutes a low-pass filter for inverting and amplifying the output signal of the buffer 14 of the F / V conversion circuit 12 from which the DC component has been removed, and for removing the high range of the output signal. The operational amplifier 151 is assumed to be a single power supply circuit. The operational amplifier 151 constitutes an inverting amplifier composed of two resistance elements R2 and R3, and the input residual vibration (alternating current component) is amplified by -R3 / R2 times.

  In addition, for the single power supply operation of the operational amplifier 151, the residual vibration waveform of the amplified diaphragm 121 that vibrates around the potential set by the DC voltage source Vref1 connected to the non-inverting input terminal is output. . Here, the DC voltage source Vref1 is set to about ½ of the voltage range in which the operational amplifier 151 can operate with a single power source. Further, the operational amplifier 151 constitutes a low-pass filter having a cutoff frequency 1 / (2π × C4 × R3) by two capacitors C3 and C4. Then, as shown in the timing chart of FIG. 20, the residual vibration waveform of the diaphragm 121 that has been amplified after the direct current component has been removed is subjected to the potential of another direct current voltage source Vref2 by a comparator 152 at the next stage. And the comparison result is output from the waveform shaping circuit 15 as a rectangular wave. Note that the DC voltage source Vref2 may share another DC voltage source Vref1.

  Next, operations of the F / V conversion circuit 12 and the waveform shaping circuit 15 in FIG. 19 will be described with reference to a timing chart shown in FIG. The F / V conversion circuit 12 shown in FIG. 19 operates based on the charging signal, the clear signal, and the hold signal generated as described above. In the timing chart of FIG. 20, when the drive signal of the electrostatic actuator 120 is input to the inkjet head 100 via the head driver 33, the diaphragm 121 of the electrostatic actuator 120 is segmented as shown in FIG. It is attracted to the electrode 122 side, and contracts rapidly upward in FIG. 6 in synchronization with the falling edge of this drive signal (see FIG. 6C).

In synchronization with the falling edge of the drive signal, the drive / detection switching signal for switching between the drive circuit 18 and the ejection abnormality detecting means 10 becomes High level. This drive / detection switching signal is held at the high level during the drive suspension period of the corresponding ink jet head 100, and becomes the low level before the next drive signal is input. While the drive / detection switching signal is at the high level, the oscillation circuit 11 in FIG. 18 oscillates while changing the oscillation frequency corresponding to the residual vibration of the diaphragm 121 of the electrostatic actuator 120.
As described above, from the falling edge of the drive signal, that is, from the rising edge of the output signal of the oscillation circuit 11, only a fixed time tr set in advance so that the waveform of the residual vibration does not exceed the range in which the capacitor C1 can be charged. The charging signal is held at a high level until the time has elapsed. Note that the switch SW1 is in an off state while the charge signal is at a high level.

  When the fixed time tr elapses and the charge signal becomes low level, the switch SW1 is turned on in synchronization with the falling edge of the charge signal (see FIG. 19). Then, the constant current source 13 and the capacitor C1 are connected, and the capacitor C1 is charged with the slope Is / C1 as described above. The capacitor C1 is charged during the period when the charging signal is at the low level, that is, until the charging signal becomes high level in synchronization with the rising edge of the next pulse of the output signal of the oscillation circuit 11.

  When the charge signal becomes high level, the switch SW1 is turned off (opened), and the constant current source 13 and the capacitor C1 are disconnected. At this time, the capacitor C1 stores a potential (that is, ideally Is × t1 / C1 (V)) charged during the period t1 when the charge signal is at a low level. In this state, when the hold signal becomes High level, the switch SW2 is turned on (see FIG. 19), and the capacitor C1 and the capacitor C2 are connected via the resistance element R1. After the connection of the switch SW2, charging and discharging are performed by the charging potential difference between the two capacitors C1 and C2, and the charge is transferred from the capacitor C1 to the capacitor C2 so that the potential difference between the two capacitors C1 and C2 is approximately equal.

  Here, the capacitance of the capacitor C2 is set to about 1/10 or less with respect to the capacitance of the capacitor C1. For this reason, the amount of charge that is moved (used) by charging / discharging caused by the potential difference between the two capacitors C1 and C2 is 1/10 or less of the charge charged in the capacitor C1. Therefore, even after the charge moves from the capacitor C1 to the capacitor C2, the potential difference of the capacitor C1 does not change so much (it does not decrease so much). In the F / V conversion circuit 12 of FIG. 19, when the capacitor C2 is charged, the resistance element R1 and the capacitor are prevented from suddenly jumping up due to the inductance of the wiring of the F / V conversion circuit 12 or the like. A primary low-pass filter is configured by C2.

  After the charging potential approximately equal to the charging potential of the capacitor C1 is held in the capacitor C2, the hold signal becomes the low level, and the capacitor C1 is disconnected from the capacitor C2. Further, when the clear signal becomes a high level and the switch SW3 is turned on, the capacitor C1 is connected to the ground GND, and the discharging operation is performed so that the charge charged in the capacitor C1 becomes zero. After the capacitor C1 is discharged, the clear signal becomes a low level, and the switch SW3 is turned off, whereby the upper electrode in FIG. 19 of the capacitor C1 is disconnected from the ground GND, that is, until the next charging signal is input, that is, the charging is performed. Waiting until the signal becomes low level.

  The potential held in the capacitor C2 is updated every time the charging signal rises, that is, every time when charging of the capacitor C2 is completed, and the waveform shown in FIG. It is output to the shaping circuit 15. Therefore, the electrostatic capacitance of the electrostatic actuator 120 (in this case, the fluctuation range of the electrostatic capacitance due to residual vibration must be taken into consideration) and the resistance value of the resistance element 112 are set so that the oscillation frequency of the oscillation circuit 11 is increased. If this is done, each step (step) of the potential of the capacitor C2 (output of the buffer 14) shown in the timing chart of FIG. 20 becomes more detailed, and therefore the time-dependent change in capacitance due to residual vibration of the diaphragm 121 is further increased. It becomes possible to detect in detail.

  Similarly, the charging signal is repeatedly changed from Low level → High level → Low level... And the potential held in the capacitor C2 is output to the waveform shaping circuit 15 via the buffer 14 at the predetermined timing. In the waveform shaping circuit 15, the DC component of the voltage signal (the potential of the capacitor C2 in the timing chart of FIG. 20) input from the buffer 14 is removed by the capacitor C3, and is connected to the inverting input terminal of the operational amplifier 151 via the resistor element R2. Entered. The input alternating current (AC) component of the residual vibration is inverted and amplified by the operational amplifier 151 and output to one input terminal of the comparator 152. The comparator 152 compares the potential (reference voltage) preset by the DC voltage source Vref2 with the potential of the residual vibration waveform (AC component), and outputs a rectangular wave (of the comparison circuit in the timing chart of FIG. 20). output).

  Next, the switching timing between the ink droplet ejection operation (drive) and the ejection abnormality detection operation (drive suspension) of the inkjet head 100 will be described. FIG. 23 is a block diagram showing an outline of the switching means 23 between the drive circuit 18 and the ejection abnormality detection means 10. 23, the drive circuit 18 in the head driver 33 shown in FIG. 16 will be described as a drive circuit for the inkjet head 100. As shown in the timing chart of FIG. 20, the ejection abnormality detection process is executed between the drive signals of the inkjet head 100, that is, in the drive pause period.

  In FIG. 23, in order to drive the electrostatic actuator 120, the switching means 23 is initially connected to the drive circuit 18 side. As described above, when a drive signal (voltage signal) is input from the drive circuit 18 to the diaphragm 121, the electrostatic actuator 120 is driven, the diaphragm 121 is attracted to the segment electrode 122 side, and the applied voltage is 0. Then, it suddenly displaces in a direction away from the segment electrode 122 and starts to vibrate (residual vibration). At this time, ink droplets are ejected from the nozzles 110 of the inkjet head 100.

  When the pulse of the drive signal falls, a drive / detection switching signal (see the timing chart of FIG. 20) is input to the switching means 23 in synchronization with the falling edge, and the switching means 23 detects the ejection abnormality from the drive circuit 18. The electrostatic actuator 120 (used as a capacitor of the oscillation circuit 11) is connected to the ejection abnormality detection means 10 by switching to the means (detection circuit) 10 side.

  Then, the discharge abnormality detection means 10 executes the discharge abnormality (dot missing) detection process as described above, and the residual vibration waveform data (rectangular wave data) of the diaphragm 121 output from the comparator 152 of the waveform shaping circuit 15. ) Is digitized by the measuring means 17 into the period and amplitude of the residual vibration waveform. In the present embodiment, the measurement unit 17 measures a specific vibration cycle from the residual vibration waveform data and outputs the measurement result (numerical value) to the determination unit 20.

  Specifically, the measuring means 17 is a counter (not shown) for measuring the time (residual vibration period) from the first rising edge to the next rising edge of the waveform (rectangular wave) of the output signal of the comparator 152. Is used to count the pulses of the reference signal (predetermined frequency), and the residual vibration period (specific vibration period) is measured from the counted value. Note that the measuring unit 17 may measure the time from the first rising edge to the next falling edge and output the time twice the measured time to the determining unit 20 as the period of the residual vibration. Hereinafter, the period of the residual vibration obtained in this way is Tw.

  Based on a specific vibration period (measurement result) of the residual vibration waveform measured by the measurement unit 17, the determination unit 20 determines the presence or absence of nozzle ejection abnormality, the cause of ejection abnormality, the amount of comparison deviation, and the like. The determination result is output to the control unit 6. The control unit 6 stores the determination result in a predetermined storage area of the EEPROM (storage unit) 62. Then, at the timing when the next drive signal from the drive circuit 18 is input, the drive / detection switching signal is input again to the switching means 23 to connect the drive circuit 18 and the electrostatic actuator 120. Since the drive circuit 18 maintains the ground (GND) level once the drive voltage is applied, the switching means 23 performs the switching as described above (see the timing chart in FIG. 20). Thereby, the residual vibration waveform of the diaphragm 121 of the electrostatic actuator 120 can be accurately detected without being affected by disturbance from the drive circuit 18.

  In the present invention, the residual vibration waveform data is not limited to the rectangular waveform generated by the comparator 152. For example, the residual vibration amplitude data output from the operational amplifier 1551 is digitized at any time by the measurement means 17 that performs A / D conversion without performing comparison processing by the comparator 152, and based on the digitized data, The determination unit 20 may determine whether or not there is a discharge abnormality, and the determination result may be stored in the storage unit 62.

  Further, since the meniscus of the nozzle 110 (the surface where the ink in the nozzle 110 is in contact with the atmosphere) vibrates in synchronization with the residual vibration of the vibration plate 121, the ink jet head 100 causes the residual vibration of the meniscus after the ink droplet ejection operation. , After waiting for the sound resistance r to decay in a substantially determined time (waiting for a predetermined time), the next discharge operation is performed. In the present invention, the residual vibration of the vibration plate 121 is detected by effectively using this standby time, so that it is possible to detect ejection abnormality that does not affect the driving of the inkjet head 100. That is, the ejection abnormality detection process of the nozzle 110 of the inkjet head 100 can be executed without reducing the throughput of the inkjet printer 1 (droplet ejection device).

  As described above, when bubbles are mixed in the cavity 141 of the inkjet head 100, the frequency is higher than the residual vibration waveform of the diaphragm 121 during normal ejection, so the cycle is reversed during normal ejection. It becomes shorter than the period of residual vibration. Further, when the ink near the nozzle 110 is thickened and fixed due to drying, the residual vibration is excessively attenuated, and the frequency is considerably lower than the residual vibration waveform during normal ejection. It becomes considerably longer than the period of residual vibration. Further, when paper dust adheres near the outlet of the nozzle 110, the frequency of residual vibration is lower than the frequency of residual vibration during normal ejection, but is higher than the frequency of residual vibration during ink drying. Therefore, the period is longer than the period of residual vibration during normal ejection, and shorter than the period of residual vibration during ink drying.

  Therefore, a predetermined range Tr is provided as a period of residual vibration at the time of normal ejection, and a period of residual vibration when paper dust adheres to the nozzle 110 outlet and when ink is dried near the nozzle 110 outlet. By setting a predetermined threshold value (predetermined threshold value) T1 in order to distinguish from the period of the residual vibration, the cause of such an ejection abnormality of the inkjet head 100 can be determined. The determination unit 20 determines whether or not the period Tw of the residual vibration waveform detected by the ejection abnormality detection process is a period within a predetermined range, and whether or not it is longer than a predetermined threshold. Based on this, the cause of the ejection abnormality is determined.

  Next, the operation of the droplet discharge device of the present invention will be described based on the configuration of the inkjet printer 1 described above. First, ejection abnormality detection processing (including drive / detection switching processing) for the nozzle 110 of one inkjet head 100 will be described. FIG. 24 is a flowchart showing ejection abnormality detection / determination processing. When print data to be printed (may be ejection data in a flushing operation) is input from the host computer 8 to the control unit 6 via the interface (IF) 9, this ejection abnormality detection process is executed at a predetermined timing. For convenience of explanation, the flowchart shown in FIG. 24 shows a discharge abnormality detection process corresponding to the discharge operation of one inkjet head 100, that is, one nozzle 110.

  First, a drive signal corresponding to the print data (ejection data) is input from the drive circuit 18 of the head driver 33, and based on the drive signal timing as shown in the timing chart of FIG. A drive signal (voltage signal) is applied between both electrodes (step S101). Then, the control unit 6 determines whether or not the ejected inkjet head 100 is in the drive suspension period based on the drive / detection switching signal (step S102). Here, the drive / detection switching signal becomes High level in synchronization with the falling edge of the driving signal (see FIG. 20), and is input from the control unit 6 to the switching means 23.

  When the drive / detection switching signal is input to the switching unit 23, the electrostatic actuator 120, that is, the capacitor constituting the oscillation circuit 11 is disconnected from the drive circuit 18 by the switching unit 23, and the ejection abnormality detection unit 10 (detection). Circuit) side, that is, connected to the oscillation circuit 11 of the residual vibration detecting means 16 (step S103). And the residual vibration detection process mentioned later is performed (step S104), and the measurement means 17 measures a predetermined | prescribed numerical value from the residual vibration waveform data detected in this residual vibration detection process (step S105). Here, as described above, the measuring means 17 measures the period of the residual vibration from the residual vibration waveform data.

  Next, based on the measurement result of the measurement unit, the determination unit 20 executes a discharge abnormality determination process described later (step S106), and the determination result is stored in a predetermined storage area of the EEPROM (storage unit) 62 of the control unit 6. save. In step S108, it is determined whether or not the inkjet head 100 is in the driving period. That is, it is determined whether or not the drive suspension period has ended and the next drive signal has been input, and the process waits in step S108 until the next drive signal is input.

  When the drive / detection switching signal becomes low level in synchronization with the rising edge of the driving signal at the timing when the pulse of the next driving signal is input (“Yes” in step S108), the switching unit 23 causes the electrostatic actuator 120 to switch. Is switched from the discharge abnormality detection means (detection circuit) 10 to the drive circuit 18 (step S109), and this discharge abnormality detection process is terminated.

  In the flowchart shown in FIG. 24, the case where the measurement unit 17 measures the period from the residual vibration waveform detected by the residual vibration detection process (residual vibration detection unit 16) is shown. For example, the measurement unit 17 may measure the phase difference or amplitude of the residual vibration waveform from the residual vibration waveform data detected in the residual vibration detection process.

  Next, the residual vibration detection process (subroutine) in step S104 of the flowchart shown in FIG. 24 will be described. FIG. 25 is a flowchart showing the residual vibration detection process. As described above, when the electrostatic actuator 120 and the oscillation circuit 11 are connected by the switching unit 23 (step S103 in FIG. 24), the oscillation circuit 11 constitutes a CR oscillation circuit, and the electrostatic capacitance of the electrostatic actuator 120 Oscillation (residual vibration of diaphragm 121 of electrostatic actuator 120) (step S201).

  As shown in the above timing chart and the like, the F / V conversion circuit 12 generates a charging signal, a hold signal, and a clear signal based on the output signal (pulse signal) of the oscillation circuit 11, and based on these signals. F / V conversion processing for converting the frequency of the output signal of the oscillation circuit 11 into voltage is performed by the F / V conversion circuit 12 (step S202), and residual vibration waveform data of the diaphragm 121 is output from the F / V conversion circuit 12. Is done. The residual vibration waveform data output from the F / V conversion circuit 12 is removed from the DC component (DC component) by the capacitor C3 of the waveform shaping circuit 15 (step S203), and the residual from which the DC component is removed by the operational amplifier 151. The vibration waveform (AC component) is amplified (step S204).

  The amplified residual vibration waveform data is shaped and pulsed by a predetermined process (step S205). That is, in the present embodiment, the comparator 152 compares the voltage value (predetermined voltage value) set by the DC voltage source Vref2 with the output voltage of the operational amplifier 151. The comparator 152 outputs a binarized waveform (rectangular wave) based on the comparison result. The output signal of the comparator 152 is an output signal of the residual vibration detection means 16 and is output to the measurement means 17 in order to perform the discharge abnormality determination process, and this residual vibration detection process is completed.

  Next, the ejection abnormality determination process (subroutine) in step S106 of the flowchart shown in FIG. 24 will be described. FIG. 26 is a flowchart showing a discharge abnormality determination process executed by the control unit 6 and the determination unit 20. Based on the measurement data (measurement result) such as the period measured by the measurement unit 17 described above, the determination unit 20 determines whether or not the ink droplets are normally ejected from the corresponding inkjet head 100, and does not eject normally. If this is the case, that is, if there is a discharge abnormality, the cause is determined.

  First, the control unit 6 outputs a predetermined range Tr of the residual vibration period and a predetermined threshold value T1 of the residual vibration period stored in the EEPROM 62 to the determination unit 20. The predetermined range Tr of the residual vibration period has an allowable range that can be determined as normal with respect to the residual vibration period during normal ejection. These data are stored in a memory (not shown) of the determination unit 20 and the following processing is executed.

The measurement result measured by the measurement unit 17 in step S105 in FIG. 24 is input to the determination unit 20 (step S301). Here, in the present embodiment, the measurement result is a period Tw of residual vibration of the diaphragm 121.
In step S202, the determination unit 20 determines whether or not there is a residual vibration period Tw, that is, whether or not the residual vibration waveform data is not obtained by the ejection abnormality detection unit 10. When it is determined that the residual vibration period Tw does not exist, the determination unit 20 determines that the nozzle 110 of the inkjet head 100 is an undischarged nozzle that has not discharged an ink droplet in the discharge abnormality detection process ( Step S306). If it is determined that there is residual vibration waveform data, then in step S303, the determination unit 20 determines whether or not the cycle Tw is within a predetermined range Tr that is recognized as a cycle during normal ejection. Determine.

  When it is determined that the period Tw of the residual vibration is within the predetermined range Tr, it means that the ink droplet has been normally ejected from the corresponding inkjet head 100, and the determination means 20 It is determined that the nozzle 110 has normally ejected ink droplets (normal ejection) (step S307). If it is determined that the residual vibration period Tw is not within the predetermined range Tr, then, in step S304, the determination unit 20 determines whether the residual vibration period Tw is shorter than the predetermined range Tr. Determine whether.

  If it is determined that the period Tw of the residual vibration is shorter than the predetermined range Tr, it means that the frequency of the residual vibration is high. As described above, bubbles are mixed in the cavity 141 of the inkjet head 100. The determination unit 20 determines that bubbles are mixed in the cavity 141 of the inkjet head 100 (bubbles mixed) (step S308).

  When it is determined that the residual vibration period Tw is longer than the predetermined range Tr, the determination unit 20 subsequently determines whether the residual vibration period Tw is longer than the predetermined threshold T1. Determination is made (step S305). If it is determined that the period Tw of the residual vibration is longer than the predetermined threshold value T1, it is considered that the residual vibration is excessively damped, and the determination means 20 uses the ink near the nozzle 110 of the inkjet head 100. It is determined that the viscosity is increased by drying (drying) (step S309).

In step S305, if it is determined that the period Tw of the residual vibration is shorter than the predetermined threshold value T1, the period Tw of the residual vibration is a value in a range that satisfies Tr <Tw <T1, As described above, it is considered that paper dust adheres to the vicinity of the outlet of the nozzle 110 having a frequency higher than that of drying, and the determination unit 20 has paper dust adhered to the vicinity of the nozzle 110 outlet of the inkjet head 100. It is determined that (paper dust adheres) (step S310).
As described above, when the determination unit 20 determines the cause of normal discharge or discharge abnormality of the target inkjet head 100 (steps S306 to S310), the determination result is output to the control unit 6, and this discharge is performed. The abnormality determination process ends.

Next, assuming an inkjet printer 1 including a plurality of inkjet heads 100 (droplet ejection heads) 100, that is, a plurality of nozzles 110, ejection selection means (nozzle selectors) 182 in the inkjet printer 1, and each inkjet head 100. The timing of ejection abnormality detection / determination will be described.
In the following, in order to make the description easy to understand, one head unit 35 of the plurality of head units 35 provided in the printing unit 3 will be described, and the head unit 35 includes five inkjet heads 100a to 100e. In the present invention, the number of head units 35 included in the printing unit 3 and the number of inkjet heads 100 (nozzles 110) included in each head unit 35 are respectively Any number.

27 to 30 are block diagrams illustrating some examples of ejection abnormality detection / determination timing in the inkjet printer 1 including the ejection selection unit 182. FIG. Hereinafter, configuration examples in the drawings will be sequentially described.
FIG. 27 is an example of a discharge abnormality detection timing of a plurality (five) of ink jet heads 100a to 100e (when there is one discharge abnormality detection means 10). As shown in FIG. 27, an inkjet printer 1 having a plurality of inkjet heads 100a to 100e can select a drive waveform generation unit 181 that generates a drive waveform and which nozzle 110 ejects ink droplets. A plurality of inkjet heads 100a to 100e that are selected by the discharge selection unit 182 and driven by the drive waveform generation unit 181. In the configuration of FIG. 27, the configuration other than the above is the same as that shown in FIG. 2, FIG. 16, and FIG.

  In this embodiment, the drive waveform generation unit 181 and the ejection selection unit 182 are described as being included in the drive circuit 18 of the head driver 33 (in FIG. 27, two blocks are shown via the switching unit 23). However, in general, both are configured in the head driver 33), and the present invention is not limited to this configuration. For example, the drive waveform generation means 181 may be configured independently of the head driver 33. Good.

  As shown in FIG. 27, the ejection selection means 182 includes a shift register 182a, a latch circuit 182b, and a driver 182c. Print data (ejection data) output from the host computer 8 shown in FIG. 2 and subjected to predetermined processing by the control unit 6 and a clock signal (CLK) are sequentially input to the shift register 182a. The print data is sequentially shifted from the first stage of the shift register 182a to the subsequent stage according to the input pulse of the clock signal (CLK) (each time the clock signal is input), and corresponds to each of the inkjet heads 100a to 100e. The print data is output to the latch circuit 182b. In the discharge abnormality detection process to be described later, discharge data at the time of flushing (preliminary discharge) is input instead of print data. The discharge data means print data for all the ink jet heads 100a to 100e. . At the time of flushing, hardware processing may be performed so that all outputs of the latch circuit 182b are set to discharge values.

  The latch circuit 182b stores each output signal of the shift register 182a according to the latch signal inputted after the print data corresponding to the number of the nozzles 110 of the head unit 35, that is, the number of the inkjet heads 100 is stored in the shift register 182a. Latch. Here, when the CLEAR signal is input, the latch state is released, the output signal of the latched shift register 182a becomes 0 (latch output stop), and the printing operation is stopped. When the CLEAR signal is not input, the latched print data of the shift register 182a is output to the driver 182c. After the print data output from the shift register 182a is latched by the latch circuit 182b, the next print data is input to the shift register 182a, and the latch signal of the latch circuit 182b is sequentially updated in accordance with the print timing.

  The driver 182c connects the drive waveform generator 181 and the electrostatic actuator 120 of each inkjet head 100, and each electrostatic actuator 120 (inkjet) designated (specified) by a latch signal output from the latch circuit 182b. The output signal (drive signal) of the drive waveform generation means 181 is input to any one or all of the electrostatic actuators 120) of the heads 100a to 100e, so that the drive signal (voltage signal) becomes both electrodes of the electrostatic actuator 120. Applied between.

  In the inkjet printer 1 shown in FIG. 27, one drive waveform generating unit 181 that drives the plurality of inkjet heads 100a to 100e and an ejection abnormality (ink droplet) with respect to any inkjet head 100 of the inkjet heads 100a to 100e. A discharge abnormality detecting means 10 for detecting (non-ejection), a storage means 62 for storing (storing) a determination result such as a cause of the discharge abnormality obtained by the discharge abnormality detecting means 10, a drive waveform generating means 181 and a discharge abnormality. One switching unit 23 that switches between the detection unit 10 and the detection unit 10 is provided. Accordingly, the ink jet printer 1 drives one or more of the ink jet heads 100a to 100e selected by the driver 182c based on the drive signal input from the drive waveform generation means 181 to drive / detect the switching signal. Is input to the switching unit 23 after the ejection driving operation, so that the switching unit 23 switches the connection from the drive waveform generation unit 181 to the ejection abnormality detection unit 10 to the electrostatic actuator 120 of the inkjet head 100, and then the diaphragm 121. Based on the residual vibration waveform, the ejection abnormality detection means 10 detects ejection abnormality (ink droplet non-ejection) at the nozzle 110 of the inkjet head 100, and determines the cause in the case of ejection abnormality.

  When the ink jet printer 1 detects and determines an ejection abnormality for the nozzle 110 of one ink jet head 100, the ink jet head 100 designated next is based on the drive signal input from the drive waveform generating unit 181. In the same manner, ejection abnormalities are sequentially detected and determined for the nozzles 110 of the inkjet head 100 driven by the output signal of the drive waveform generation means 181. As described above, when the residual vibration detection unit 16 detects the residual vibration waveform of the diaphragm 121, the measurement unit 17 measures the period of the residual vibration waveform based on the waveform data, and the determination unit 20 performs the measurement. Based on the measurement result of the means 17, in the case of normal ejection or ejection abnormality and ejection abnormality (head abnormality), the cause of ejection abnormality is determined, and the determination result is output to the storage means 62.

  In this way, the inkjet printer 1 shown in FIG. 27 is configured to detect and determine ejection abnormalities sequentially during the ink droplet ejection driving operation for each nozzle 110 of the plurality of inkjet heads 100a to 100e. It is only necessary to provide one means 10 and one switching means 23, and the circuit configuration of the ink jet printer 1 capable of detecting / determining ejection abnormality can be scaled down, and an increase in its manufacturing cost can be prevented.

  FIG. 28 is an example of the timing of ejection abnormality detection of a plurality of inkjet heads 100 (when the number of ejection abnormality detection means 10 is the same as the number of inkjet heads 100). The inkjet printer 1 shown in FIG. 28 has one ejection selection unit 182, five ejection abnormality detection units 10 a to 10 e, five switching units 23 a to 23 e, and one common to the five inkjet heads 100 a to 100 e. Drive waveform generation means 181 and one storage means 62 are provided. Since each component has already been described in the description of FIG. 27, the description thereof will be omitted and the connection will be described.

  As in the case shown in FIG. 27, the ejection selecting means 182 latches print data corresponding to each of the inkjet heads 100a to 100e based on print data (ejection data) input from the host computer 8 and the clock signal CLK. The electrostatic actuator 120 of the ink jet heads 100a to 100e corresponding to the print data is driven in accordance with a drive signal (voltage signal) input to the driver 182c from the drive waveform generator 181. The drive / detection switching signals are respectively input to the switching units 23a to 23e corresponding to all the inkjet heads 100a to 100e, and the switching units 23a to 23e are driven / removed regardless of the presence or absence of the corresponding print data (ejection data). Based on the detection switching signal, after the drive signal is input to the electrostatic actuator 120 of the inkjet head 100, the connection with the inkjet head 100 is switched from the drive waveform generation means 181 to the ejection abnormality detection means 10a to 10e.

  After detecting and determining the ejection abnormality of each inkjet head 100a to 100e by all the ejection abnormality detection means 10a to 10e, the determination results of all the inkjet heads 100a to 100e obtained by the detection processing are stored in the storage means 62. The storage means 62 stores the presence / absence of the ejection abnormality of each of the inkjet heads 100a to 100e and the cause of the ejection abnormality in a predetermined storage area.

  As described above, in the ink jet printer 1 shown in FIG. 28, a plurality of ejection abnormality detecting means 10a to 10e are provided corresponding to the nozzles 110 of the plurality of ink jet heads 100a to 100e, and a plurality of switching means 23a corresponding to them. Since the discharge operation is detected and its cause is determined by performing the switching operation by ˜23e, it is possible to detect the discharge abnormality and determine its cause for all the nozzles 110 at a time.

  FIG. 29 is an example of ejection abnormality detection timings of a plurality of inkjet heads 100 (when ejection abnormality detection is performed when the number of ejection abnormality detection means 10 is the same as the number of inkjet heads 100 and there is print data). is there. The inkjet printer 1 shown in FIG. 29 is obtained by adding (adding) a switching control means 19 to the configuration of the inkjet printer 1 shown in FIG. In the present embodiment, the switching control means 19 is composed of a plurality of AND circuits (logical product circuits) ANDa to ANDe, and print data input to each of the inkjet heads 100a to 100e and a drive / detection switching signal are input. Then, a high level output signal is output to the corresponding switching means 23a to 23e. The switching control unit 19 is not limited to an AND circuit (logical product circuit), and may be configured to select the switching unit 23 that matches the output of the latch circuit 182b from which the inkjet head 100 to be driven is selected. .

  Each of the switching units 23a to 23e is based on the output signals of the corresponding AND circuits ANDa to ANDe of the switching control unit 19, respectively, from the drive waveform generation unit 181 to the corresponding ejection abnormality detection units 10a to 10e, respectively. The connection with the electrostatic actuators 120a to 100e is switched. Specifically, when the output signals of the corresponding AND circuits ANDa to ANDe are at a high level, that is, when the drive / detection switching signal is at a high level, the print data input to the corresponding inkjet heads 100a to 100e is latched. When output from the circuit 182b to the driver 182c, the switching means 23a to 23e corresponding to the AND circuit connects the corresponding inkjet heads 100a to 100e with the ejection abnormality detection means 10a from the drive waveform generation means 181. To 10e.

  The ejection abnormality detecting means 10a to 10e corresponding to the inkjet head 100 to which the print data is input detects the presence or absence of ejection abnormality of each inkjet head 100 and the cause of the ejection abnormality, and then detects the ejection abnormality detecting means 10. Outputs the determination result obtained by the detection process to the storage means 62. The storage unit 62 stores one or more determination results input (obtained) in this manner in a predetermined storage area.

  As described above, in the inkjet printer 1 shown in FIG. 29, a plurality of ejection abnormality detection units 10 a to 10 e are provided corresponding to the respective nozzles 110 of the plurality of inkjet heads 100 a to 100 e, and each of the inkjet heads 100 a to 100 e is supported. When print data to be printed is input from the host computer 8 to the discharge selection means 182 via the control unit 6, only the switching means 23a to 23e designated by the switching control means 19 perform a predetermined switching operation, and the inkjet head Since 100 ejection abnormality is detected and its cause is determined, this detection / determination process is not performed for the inkjet head 100 that is not performing the ejection driving operation. Therefore, this inkjet printer 1 can avoid useless detection and determination processing.

  FIG. 30 shows an example of ejection abnormality detection timing of a plurality of inkjet heads 100 (the number of ejection abnormality detection means 10 is the same as the number of inkjet heads 100, and ejection abnormality detection is performed by circulating through each inkjet head 100. ). The inkjet printer 1 shown in FIG. 30 has one ejection abnormality detection means 10 in the configuration of the inkjet printer 1 shown in FIG. 29, and scans the drive / detection switching signal (the inkjet head 100 that executes the detection / determination process). The switching selection means 19a (identifying one by one) is added.

  This switching selection means 19a is connected to the switching control means 19 shown in FIG. 29, and corresponds to the plurality of inkjet heads 100a to 100e based on the scanning signal (selection signal) input from the control unit 6. This selector scans (selects and switches) input of drive / detection switching signals to the AND circuits ANDa to ANDe. The switching (selection) order of the switching selection means 19a may be the order of print data input to the shift register 182a, that is, the ejection order of the plurality of inkjet heads 100, but simply the plurality of inkjet heads 100a to 100a. The order may be 100e.

  When the scanning order is the order of the print data input to the shift register 182a, when the print data is input to the shift register 182a of the ejection selection means 182, the print data is latched by the latch circuit 182b and the latch signal is input. Is output to the driver 182c. In synchronization with the input of the print data to the shift register 182a or the input of the latch signal to the latch circuit 182b, a scanning signal for specifying the inkjet head 100 corresponding to the print data is input to the switching selection means 19a. A drive / detection switching signal is output to the AND circuit that performs the above operation. The output terminal of the switching selection means 19a outputs a low level when not selected.

The corresponding AND circuit (switch control means 19) performs a logical AND operation on the print data input from the latch circuit 182b and the drive / detection switch signal input from the switch selection means 19a, thereby outputting a high level. The signal is output to the corresponding switching means 23. Then, the switching unit 23 to which the high-level output signal is input from the switching control unit 19 switches the connection of the corresponding inkjet head 100 to the electrostatic actuator 120 from the drive waveform generation unit 181 to the ejection abnormality detection unit 10.
The ejection abnormality detection means 10 detects an ejection abnormality of the inkjet head 100 to which the print data has been input, and when there is an ejection abnormality, determines the cause and outputs the determination result to the storage means 62. Then, the storage unit 62 stores the determination result input (obtained) in this manner in a predetermined storage area.

  Further, when the scanning order is the order of the simple inkjet heads 100a to 100e, when print data is input to the shift register 182a of the ejection selection means 182, the print data is latched by the latch circuit 182b and the latch signal is input. Is output to the driver 182c. In synchronization with the input of the print data to the shift register 182a or the input of the latch signal to the latch circuit 182b, a scanning (selection) signal for specifying the inkjet head 100 corresponding to the print data is input to the switching selection means 19a. Then, a drive / detection switching signal is output to the corresponding AND circuit of the switching control means 19.

  Here, when print data for the inkjet head 100 determined by the scanning signal input to the switching selection means 19a is input to the shift register 182a, the output signal of the corresponding AND circuit (switching control means 19) is at a high level. Thus, the switching unit 23 switches the connection to the corresponding inkjet head 100 from the drive waveform generation unit 181 to the ejection abnormality detection unit 10. However, when the print data is not input to the shift register 182a, the output signal of the AND circuit is at the low level, and the corresponding switching unit 23 does not execute a predetermined switching operation. Therefore, the ejection abnormality detection process of the inkjet head 100 is performed based on the logical product of the selection result of the switching selection unit 19a and the result specified by the switching control unit 19.

  When the switching operation is performed by the switching unit 23, similarly to the above, the ejection abnormality detection unit 10 detects the ejection abnormality of the ink jet head 100 to which the print data is input. After determining the cause, the determination result is output to the storage means 62. Then, the storage unit 62 stores the determination result input (obtained) in this manner in a predetermined storage area.

  Note that when there is no print data for the inkjet head 100 specified by the switching selection unit 19a, the corresponding switching unit 23 does not execute the switching operation as described above, so that the ejection abnormality detecting process by the ejection abnormality detecting unit 10 is executed. There is no need to do this, but such processing may be performed. When the discharge abnormality detection process is executed without performing the switching operation, the determination unit 20 of the discharge abnormality detection unit 10 sets the corresponding nozzle 110 of the inkjet head 100 as an undischarged nozzle as shown in the flowchart of FIG. (Step S306), and the determination result is stored in a predetermined storage area of the storage means 62.

  As described above, in the ink jet printer 1 shown in FIG. 30, unlike the ink jet printer 1 shown in FIG. 28 or 29, only one ejection abnormality detecting means 10 is provided for each nozzle 110 of the plurality of ink jet heads 100a to 100e. The print data corresponding to each of the inkjet heads 100a to 100e is input from the host computer 8 to the discharge selection means 182 via the control unit 6, and at the same time, specified by the scanning (selection) signal, Accordingly, only the switching unit 23 corresponding to the inkjet head 100 that performs the ejection driving operation performs the switching operation to detect the ejection abnormality of the corresponding inkjet head 100 and determine the cause thereof. CPU 61 of control unit 6 without processing It is possible to reduce the burden. Further, since the ejection abnormality detection means 10 circulates the nozzle state separately from the ejection operation, it is possible to grasp ejection abnormality for each nozzle even during drive printing, and to know the nozzle 110 state of the entire head unit 35. be able to. Thereby, for example, since abnormal discharge is regularly detected, it is possible to reduce the process of detecting abnormal discharge for each nozzle while printing is stopped. From the above, it is possible to efficiently detect the ejection abnormality of the inkjet head 100 and determine the cause thereof.

  Further, unlike the ink jet printer 1 shown in FIG. 28 or FIG. 29, the ink jet printer 1 shown in FIG. 30 only needs to have one ejection abnormality detecting means 10, and therefore the ink jet printer shown in FIG. 28 and FIG. Compared to 1, the circuit configuration of the inkjet printer 1 can be scaled down, and an increase in manufacturing cost thereof can be prevented.

  Next, an operation of the printer 1 shown in FIGS. 27 to 30, that is, an ejection abnormality detection process (mainly detection timing) in the inkjet printer 1 including the plurality of inkjet heads 100 will be described. Discharge abnormality detection / determination processing (processing for multiple nozzles) detects residual vibration of the diaphragm 121 when the electrostatic actuator 120 of each inkjet head 100 performs ink droplet discharge operation, and is based on the period of the residual vibration. Whether or not ejection abnormality (dot missing, ink droplet non-ejection) has occurred with respect to the corresponding inkjet head 100, and what is the cause when dot missing (ink droplet non-ejection) has occurred are determined. doing. As described above, in the present invention, if the ink droplet (droplet) is ejected by the inkjet head 100, these detection / determination processes can be executed. However, the inkjet head 100 actually ejects the ink droplet. In addition to the case where printing (printing) is performed on the recording paper P, a flushing operation (preliminary ejection or preliminary ejection) may be performed. Hereinafter, the discharge abnormality detection / determination process (multiple nozzles) will be described for these two cases.

  Here, the flushing (preliminary ejection) process is the entire or all of the head unit 35 when a cap (not shown in FIG. 1) is attached or in a place where ink droplets (droplets) are not applied to the recording paper P (media). This is a head cleaning operation for discharging ink droplets from the target nozzle 110. This flushing process (flushing operation) is performed when, for example, the ink in the cavity 141 is periodically discharged in order to keep the ink viscosity in the nozzle 110 within a proper range, or the ink thickening is performed. It is also implemented as a time recovery operation. Further, the flushing process is also performed when ink is initially filled in each cavity 141 after the ink cartridge 31 is mounted on the printing unit 3.

  Further, a wiping process for cleaning the nozzle plate (nozzle surface) 150 (a measure of wiping off deposits (paper dust, dust, etc.) adhering to the head surface of the printing means 3 with a wiper not shown in FIG. 1) In this case, there is a possibility that the pressure inside the nozzle 110 becomes negative and ink of other colors (other types of liquid droplets) is drawn. For this reason, after the wiping process, the flushing process is also performed in order to discharge a predetermined amount of ink droplets from all the nozzles 110 of the head unit 35. Further, the flushing process can be performed in a timely manner in order to maintain a normal meniscus state of the nozzle 110 and to ensure good printing.

  First, the ejection abnormality detection / determination process during the flushing process will be described with reference to the flowcharts shown in FIGS. These flowcharts will be described with reference to the block diagrams of FIGS. 27 to 30 (hereinafter, the same applies to the printing operation). FIG. 31 is a flowchart showing the timing of ejection abnormality detection during the flushing operation of the inkjet printer 1 shown in FIG.

  When the flushing process of the inkjet printer 1 is executed at a predetermined timing, the ejection abnormality detection / determination process shown in FIG. 31 is executed. The control unit 6 inputs the discharge data for one nozzle to the shift register 182a of the discharge selection means 182 (step S401), the latch signal is input to the latch circuit 182b (step S402), and the discharge data is latched. . At that time, the switching unit 23 connects the electrostatic actuator 120 of the inkjet head 100 that is the target of the ejection data and the drive waveform generation unit 181 (step S403).

  Then, the ejection abnormality detection unit 10 performs the ejection abnormality detection / determination process shown in the flowchart of FIG. 24 on the inkjet head 100 that has performed the ink ejection operation (step S404). In step S405, the control unit 6 completes the ejection abnormality detection / determination process for the nozzles 110 of all the inkjet heads 100a to 100e of the inkjet printer 1 shown in FIG. 27 based on the ejection data output to the ejection selection unit 182. Determine whether or not. When it is determined that these processes have not been completed for all the nozzles 110, the control unit 6 inputs ejection data corresponding to the nozzle 110 of the next inkjet head 100 to the shift register 182a (step S406). The process proceeds to step S402 and the same processing is repeated.

In step S405, when it is determined that the above-described ejection abnormality detection and determination processing has been completed for all the nozzles 110, the control unit 6 inputs the CLEAR signal to the latch circuit 182b, and the latch state of the latch circuit 182b. And the ejection abnormality detection / determination process in the inkjet printer 1 shown in FIG.
As described above, in the ejection abnormality detection / determination process in the printer 1 shown in FIG. 27, the detection circuit is configured by one ejection abnormality detection means 10 and one switching means 23. The determination process is repeated as many times as the number of the ink jet heads 100, but the circuit constituting the ejection abnormality detecting means 10 has an effect that the circuit is not so large.

  Next, FIG. 32 is a flowchart showing the timing of ejection abnormality detection during the flushing operation of the inkjet printer 1 shown in FIGS. The ink jet printer 1 shown in FIG. 28 and the ink jet printer 1 shown in FIG. 29 have slightly different circuit configurations, but the number of ejection abnormality detecting means 10 and switching means 23 corresponds to the number of ink jet heads 100 (the same). Match in terms of points. Therefore, the ejection abnormality detection / determination process during the flushing operation includes the same steps.

  When the flushing process of the inkjet printer 1 is executed at a predetermined timing, the control unit 6 inputs ejection data for all the nozzles to the shift register 182a of the ejection selection means 182 (step S501), and latches to the latch circuit 182b. A signal is input (step S502), and the ejection data is latched. At that time, the switching means 23a to 23e connect all the inkjet heads 100a to 100e and the drive waveform generation means 181 respectively (step S503).

Then, the ejection abnormality detection / determination process shown in the flowchart of FIG. 24 is performed in parallel for all the inkjet heads 100 that have performed the ink ejection operation by the ejection abnormality detection units 10a to 10e corresponding to the respective inkjet heads 100a to 100e. (Step S504). In this case, the determination results corresponding to all the inkjet heads 100a to 100e are stored in a predetermined storage area of the storage unit 62 in association with the inkjet head 100 to be processed (step S107 in FIG. 24).
Then, in order to clear the ejection data latched in the latch circuit 182b of the ejection selection means 182, the control unit 6 inputs the CLEAR signal to the latch circuit 182b (step S505), and sets the latch state of the latch circuit 182b. The ejection abnormality detection process and the determination process in the inkjet printer 1 shown in FIGS. 28 and 29 are terminated.

  As described above, in the processing in the printer 1 shown in FIGS. 28 and 29, the plurality of (five in this embodiment) ejection abnormality detecting means 10 and the plurality of switching means 23 corresponding to the ink jet heads 100a to 100e are used. Since the detection and determination circuit is configured, the ejection abnormality detection / determination process has an effect that it can be executed for all the nozzles 110 at once in a short time.

Next, FIG. 33 is a flowchart showing the timing of ejection abnormality detection during the flushing operation of the inkjet printer 1 shown in FIG. Similarly, the ejection abnormality detection process and the cause determination process during the flushing operation will be described using the circuit configuration of the inkjet printer 1 shown in FIG.
When the flushing process of the inkjet printer 1 is executed at a predetermined timing, the control unit 6 first outputs a scanning signal to the switching selection means (selector) 19a, and the switching selection means 19a and the switching control means 19 First switching means 23a and inkjet head 100a are set (specified) (step S601). Then, discharge data for all nozzles is input to the shift register 182a of the discharge selection means 182 (step S602), a latch signal is input to the latch circuit 182b (step S603), and the discharge data is latched. At that time, the switching unit 23a connects the electrostatic actuator 120 of the inkjet head 100a and the drive waveform generation unit 181 (step S604).

  Then, the ejection abnormality detection / determination process shown in the flowchart of FIG. 24 is executed on the inkjet head 100a that has performed the ink ejection operation (step S605). In this case, in step S103 of FIG. 24, the drive / detection switching signal that is the output signal of the switching selection means 19a and the ejection data output from the latch circuit 182b are input to the AND circuit ANDa, and the output signal of the AND circuit ANDa. Becomes the high level, the switching unit 23a connects the electrostatic actuator 120 of the inkjet head 100a and the ejection abnormality detecting unit 10. Then, the determination result of the ejection abnormality determination process executed in step S106 in FIG. 24 is stored in a predetermined storage area of the storage unit 62 in association with the inkjet head 100 (here, 100a) to be processed. (Step S107 in FIG. 24).

  In step S606, the control unit 6 determines whether or not the ejection abnormality detection / determination process has been completed for all the nozzles. When it is determined that the discharge abnormality detection / determination process has not been completed for all the nozzles 110, the control unit 6 outputs a scanning signal to the switching selection means (selector) 19a. The next switching unit 23b and the inkjet head 100b are set (specified) by 19a and the switching control unit 19 (step S607), the process proceeds to step S603, and the same processing is repeated. Thereafter, this loop is repeated until the ejection abnormality detection / determination process is completed for all of the inkjet heads 100.

  If it is determined in step S606 that the discharge abnormality detection process and the determination process have been completed for all the nozzles 110, the discharge data latched in the latch circuit 182b of the discharge selection unit 182 is cleared. The controller 6 inputs the CLEAR signal to the latch circuit 182b (step S609), cancels the latch state of the latch circuit 182b, and ends the ejection abnormality detection process and the determination process in the inkjet printer 1 shown in FIG.

  As described above, in the process in the inkjet printer 1 shown in FIG. 30, a detection circuit is configured by the plurality of switching means 23 and one ejection abnormality detection means 10, and is specified by the scanning signal of the switching selection means (selector) 19a. Since only the switching means 23 corresponding to the inkjet head 100 that performs ejection driving according to the ejection data performs the switching operation to detect ejection abnormality and cause determination of the corresponding inkjet head 100, the inkjet head more efficiently. 100 discharge abnormality detection and cause determination can be performed.

  In step S602 of this flowchart, ejection data corresponding to all the nozzles 110 is input to the shift register 182b. However, as shown in the flowchart of FIG. 31, the switching selection unit 19a matches the scanning order of the inkjet head 100. Thus, the ejection data input to the shift register 182a may be input to the corresponding one inkjet head 100, and ejection abnormality detection / determination processing may be performed for each nozzle 110.

  Next, the ejection abnormality detection / determination process of the inkjet printer 1 during the printing operation will be described with reference to the flowcharts shown in FIGS. The ink jet printer 1 shown in FIG. 27 is suitable mainly for ejection abnormality detection processing and determination processing during the flushing operation, and therefore the flowchart and description of the operation during the printing operation are omitted, but the ink jet shown in FIG. Also in the printer 1, the ejection abnormality detection / determination process may be performed during the printing operation.

  FIG. 34 is a flowchart showing the timing of ejection abnormality detection during the printing operation of the inkjet printer 1 shown in FIGS. 28 and 29. The processing of this flowchart is executed (started) in response to a printing (printing) instruction from the host computer 8. When print data is input from the host computer 8 to the shift register 182a of the ejection selection means 182 via the control unit 6 (step S701), a latch signal is input to the latch circuit 182b (step S702), and the print data is Latched. At this time, the switching units 23a to 23e connect all the inkjet heads 100a to 100e and the drive waveform generation unit 181 (step S703).

  Then, the ejection abnormality detection means 10 corresponding to the inkjet head 100 that has performed the ink ejection operation executes the ejection abnormality detection / determination process shown in the flowchart of FIG. 24 (step S704). In this case, each determination result corresponding to each inkjet head 100 is stored in a predetermined storage area of the storage unit 62 in association with the inkjet head 100 to be processed.

  Here, in the case of the ink jet printer 1 shown in FIG. 28, the switching means 23 a to 23 e cause the ink jet heads 100 a to 100 e to discharge abnormality detection means 10 a to 10 a based on the drive / detection switching signal output from the control unit 6. 10e (step S103 in FIG. 24). Therefore, in the inkjet head 100 in which no print data exists, the electrostatic actuator 120 is not driven, so the residual vibration detection unit 16 of the ejection abnormality detection unit 10 does not detect the residual vibration waveform of the diaphragm 121. On the other hand, in the case of the inkjet printer 1 shown in FIG. 29, the switching means 23a to 23e are ANDs to which the drive / detection switching signal output from the control unit 6 and the print data output from the latch circuit 182b are input. Based on the output signal of the circuit, the inkjet head 100 in which the print data exists is connected to the ejection abnormality detecting means 10 (step S103 in FIG. 24).

  In step S705, the control unit 6 determines whether or not the printing operation of the inkjet printer 1 has been completed. If it is determined that the printing operation has not ended, the control unit 6 proceeds to step S701, inputs the next print data to the shift register 182a, and repeats the same processing. When it is determined that the printing operation is completed, the control unit 6 inputs a CLEAR signal to the latch circuit 182b in order to clear the ejection data latched in the latch circuit 182b of the ejection selection means 182 ( In step S707), the latch state of the latch circuit 182b is released, and the ejection abnormality detection process and the determination process in the inkjet printer 1 shown in FIGS. 28 and 29 are terminated.

  As described above, the inkjet printer 1 shown in FIGS. 28 and 29 includes the plurality of switching units 23a to 23e and the plurality of ejection abnormality detection units 10a to 10e, and ejects all the inkjet heads 100 at one time. Since the abnormality detection / determination process is performed, these processes can be performed in a short time. The inkjet printer 1 shown in FIG. 29 further includes switching control means 19, that is, AND circuits ANDa to ANDe that perform a logical product operation of the drive / detection switching signal and the print data, and only the inkjet head 100 that performs the print operation. On the other hand, since the switching operation by the switching unit 23 is performed, the ejection abnormality detection process and the determination process can be performed without performing useless detection.

  Next, FIG. 35 is a flowchart showing the timing of ejection abnormality detection during the printing operation of the inkjet printer 1 shown in FIG. In accordance with a print instruction from the host computer 8, the process of this flowchart is executed in the inkjet printer 1 shown in FIG. First, the switching selection unit 19a sets (specifies) the first switching unit 23a and the inkjet head 100a in advance (step S801).

  When print data is input from the host computer 8 to the shift register 182a of the ejection selection means 182 via the control unit 6 (step S802), a latch signal is input to the latch circuit 182b (step S803), and the print data is Latched. Here, at this stage, the switching units 23a to 23e connect all the inkjet heads 100a to 100e and the drive waveform generation unit 181 (the driver 182c of the ejection selection unit 182) (step S804).

  Then, when there is print data in the inkjet head 100a, the controller 6 connects the electrostatic actuator 120 after the discharge operation to the discharge abnormality detection means 10 by the switching selection means 19a (step S103 in FIG. 24), and FIG. The ejection abnormality detection / determination process shown in the flowchart of FIG. 25 is executed (step S805). Then, the determination result of the ejection abnormality determination process executed in step S106 in FIG. 24 is stored in a predetermined storage area of the storage unit 62 in association with the inkjet head 100 (here, 100a) to be processed. (Step S107 in FIG. 24).

  In step S806, the control unit 6 determines whether or not the above-described ejection abnormality detection / determination process has been completed for all nozzles 110 (all inkjet heads 100). If it is determined that the above processing has been completed for all the nozzles 110, the control unit 6 sets the switching means 23a corresponding to the first nozzle 110 based on the scanning signal (step S808). If it is determined that the above processing has not been completed for all nozzles 110, the switching unit 23b corresponding to the next nozzle 110 is set (step S807).

  In step S809, the control unit 6 determines whether or not a predetermined printing operation instructed from the host computer 8 has been completed. If it is determined that the printing operation has not yet been completed, the next print data is input to the shift register 182a (step S802), and the same processing is repeated. When it is determined that the printing operation is completed, the control unit 6 inputs a CLEAR signal to the latch circuit 182b in order to clear the ejection data latched in the latch circuit 182b of the ejection selection means 182 ( In step S811, the latch state of the latch circuit 182b is released, and the ejection abnormality detection / determination process in the inkjet printer 1 shown in FIG.

  As described above, the droplet discharge device (inkjet printer 1) of the present invention includes the diaphragm 121, the electrostatic actuator 120 that displaces the diaphragm 121, and the liquid filled therein. An inkjet head (droplet discharge) having a cavity 141 in which the internal pressure is changed (increase / decrease) and a nozzle 110 that communicates with the cavity 141 and discharges liquid as droplets by a change (increase / decrease) in pressure in the cavity 141. A plurality of heads) 100, a drive waveform generation unit 181 that drives the electrostatic actuator 120, and a discharge selection unit 182 that selects which nozzle 110 out of the plurality of nozzles 110 discharges droplets. And the residual vibration of the diaphragm 121 is detected, and based on the detected residual vibration of the diaphragm 121, the droplets After one or more ejection abnormality detecting means 10 for detecting ejection abnormality and the droplet ejection operation by driving the electrostatic actuator 120, electrostatic discharge is detected based on the drive / detection switching signal, the print data, or the scanning signal. One or a plurality of switching means 23 for switching the actuator 120 from the drive waveform generation means 181 to the discharge abnormality detection means 10 are provided, and discharge abnormality of the plurality of nozzles 110 is detected once (in parallel) or sequentially. .

  Therefore, according to the discharge abnormality detection / determination method of the droplet discharge device and the droplet discharge head of the present invention, discharge abnormality detection and cause determination can be performed in a short time, and the detection circuit including the discharge abnormality detection means 10 includes: The circuit configuration can be scaled down, and an increase in manufacturing cost of the droplet discharge device can be prevented. Further, after the electrostatic actuator 120 is driven, the discharge abnormality detection means 10 is switched to detect the discharge abnormality and determine the cause, so that the actuator is not affected, and thereby the droplet discharge of the present invention is performed. The throughput of the apparatus is not reduced or deteriorated. Further, it is possible to equip an existing droplet discharge device (inkjet printer) having predetermined components with the discharge abnormality detection means 10.

  Further, unlike the above configuration, the droplet discharge device of the present invention includes a plurality of switching means 23, a switching control means 19, and a plurality of discharge abnormality detection means 10 corresponding to one or the number of nozzles 110, Based on the drive / detection switching signal and the ejection data (print data), or the scanning signal, the drive / detection switching signal and the ejection data (print data), the corresponding electrostatic actuator 120 is driven by the drive waveform generation means 181 or the ejection selection means. Switching from 182 to the discharge abnormality detecting means 10 is performed to perform discharge abnormality detection and cause determination.

  Therefore, the switching means corresponding to the electrostatic actuator 120 to which no discharge data (print data) is input, that is, not performing the discharge driving operation is not switched by the droplet discharge device of the present invention. It is possible to avoid the detection / determination process. In addition, when the switching selection unit 19a is used, the droplet discharge device only needs to include one discharge abnormality detection unit 10, so that the circuit configuration of the droplet discharge device can be scaled down. In addition, an increase in manufacturing cost of the droplet discharge device can be prevented.

  Next, a configuration (recovery means 24) for executing a recovery process for eliminating the cause of the discharge abnormality (head abnormality) for the inkjet head 100 (head unit 35) in the droplet discharge apparatus of the present invention will be described. FIG. 36 is a diagram showing a schematic structure (partially omitted) viewed from the top of the ink jet printer 1 shown in FIG. The ink jet printer 1 shown in FIG. 36 includes a wiper 300 and a cap 310 for executing a recovery process for ink droplet non-ejection (head abnormality) in addition to the configuration shown in the perspective view of FIG.

  The recovery process executed by the recovery unit 24 includes a flushing process for preliminarily ejecting droplets from the nozzles 110 of each inkjet head 100, a wiping process using a wiper 300 (see FIG. 37) described later, and a tube pump 320 described later. Includes pumping processing (pump suction processing). That is, the recovery means 24 includes a tube pump 320 and a pulse motor that drives the tube pump 320, a wiper 300 and a vertical movement drive mechanism of the wiper 300, and a vertical movement drive mechanism (not shown) of the cap 310. The head driver 33 and the head unit 35 and the like, and the carriage motor 41 and the like function as a part of the recovery means 24 in the wiping process. Since the flushing process has been described above, the wiping process and the pumping process will be described below.

  Here, the wiping process refers to a process of wiping off foreign matters such as paper dust attached to the nozzle plate 150 (nozzle surface) of the head unit 35 with the wiper 300. The pumping process (pump suction process) refers to a process of driving a tube pump 320 described later to suck and discharge ink in the cavity 141 from each nozzle 110 of the head unit 35. As described above, the wiping process is an appropriate process as a recovery process in the state of paper dust adhesion, which is one of the causes of the abnormal discharge of the droplets of the inkjet head 100 as described above. In addition, the pump suction process is performed when bubbles in the cavity 141 that cannot be removed by the above-described flushing process are removed, or when the ink in the vicinity of the nozzle 110 is dried or the ink in the cavity 141 is thickened due to aging. This is a process suitable as a recovery process for removing viscous ink. In addition, when the viscosity increase is not so advanced and the viscosity is not so large, the recovery process by the above-described flushing process may be performed. In this case, since the amount of ink to be discharged is small, an appropriate recovery process can be performed without reducing the throughput and running cost.

The plurality of head units 35 are mounted on the carriage 32, are guided by two carriage guide shafts 422, and are connected to the timing belt 421 by a carriage motor 41 via a connecting portion 34 provided at the upper end in the drawing. Moving. The head unit 35 mounted on the carriage 32 is movable in the main scanning direction via a timing belt 421 that is moved by driving the carriage motor 41 (in conjunction with the timing belt 421). The carriage motor 41 serves as a pulley for continuously rotating the timing belt 421, and a pulley 44 is similarly provided on the other end side.
The cap 310 is for capping the nozzle plate 150 (see FIG. 5) of the head unit 35. A hole is formed in the bottom side surface of the cap 310, and a flexible tube 321 that is a component of the tube pump 320 is connected to the cap 310, as will be described later. The tube pump 320 will be described later with reference to FIG.

  During the recording (printing) operation, while driving the electrostatic actuator 120 of a predetermined inkjet head 100 (droplet ejection head), the recording paper P moves in the sub-scanning direction, that is, downward in FIG. The inkjet printer (droplet discharge device) 1 records a predetermined image or the like based on print data (print data) input from the host computer 8 by moving in the main scanning direction, that is, left and right in FIG. Printing (recording) on the paper P.

  FIG. 37 is a diagram showing a positional relationship between the wiper 300 and the printing unit 3 (head unit 35) shown in FIG. In FIG. 37, the head unit 35 and the wiper 300 are shown as a part of a side view when the upper side is viewed from the lower side of the inkjet printer 1 shown in FIG. As shown in FIG. 37A, the wiper 300 is arranged so as to be movable up and down so as to be in contact with the nozzle surface of the printing unit 3, that is, the nozzle plate 150 of the head unit 35.

  Here, a wiping process that is a recovery process using the wiper 300 will be described. When performing the wiping process, as shown in FIG. 37A, the wiper 300 is moved upward by a driving device (not shown) so that the tip of the wiper 300 is positioned above the nozzle surface (nozzle plate 150). In this case, when the carriage motor 41 is driven to move the printing unit 3 (head unit 35) in the left direction (the direction of the arrow) in the drawing, the wiping member 301 comes into contact with the nozzle plate 150 (nozzle surface). Become.

  Since the wiping member 301 is composed of a flexible rubber member or the like, as shown in FIG. 37 (b), the tip portion of the wiping member 301 that contacts the nozzle plate 150 is bent, and the tip portion causes the nozzle plate to be bent. The surface of 150 (nozzle surface) is cleaned (wipe clean). This makes it possible to remove foreign matters such as paper dust (for example, paper dust, dust floating in the air, rubber scraps, etc.) adhering to the nozzle plate 150 (nozzle surface). Further, depending on the state of adhesion of such foreign matter (when a large amount of foreign matter is attached), the wiping process can be performed a plurality of times by causing the printing unit 3 to reciprocate above the wiper 300. .

  FIG. 38 is a diagram illustrating a relationship among the head unit 35, the cap 310, and the pump 320 during the pump suction process. The tube 321 forms an ink discharge path in the pumping process (pump suction process). One end of the tube 321 is connected to the bottom of the cap 310 as described above, and the other end is discharged via the tube pump 320. The ink cartridge 340 is connected.

  An ink absorber 330 is disposed on the inner bottom surface of the cap 310. The ink absorber 330 absorbs the ink ejected from the nozzles 110 of the inkjet head 100 in the pump suction process and the flushing process, and temporarily stores the ink. The ink absorber 330 can prevent the ejected droplets from splashing and soiling the nozzle plate 150 during the flushing operation into the cap 310.

  FIG. 39 is a schematic diagram showing the configuration of the tube pump 320 shown in FIG. As shown in FIG. 39B, the tube pump 320 is a rotary pump, and includes a rotating body 322, four rollers 323 arranged on a circumferential portion of the rotating body 322, and a guide member 350. I have. The roller 323 is supported by the rotating body 322 and presses the flexible tube 321 placed in an arc shape along the guide 351 of the guide member 350.

  In the tube pump 320, one or two rollers 323 abutting on the tube 321 rotate in the Y direction by rotating the rotating body 322 about the shaft 322a in the arrow X direction shown in FIG. However, the tubes 321 placed on the arcuate guide 351 of the guide member 350 are sequentially pressurized. As a result, the tube 321 is deformed, and the negative pressure generated in the tube 321 causes the ink (liquid material) in the cavity 141 of each inkjet head 100 to be sucked through the cap 310 and bubbles are mixed or dried. Unnecessary ink thickened by the discharge is discharged to the ink absorber 330 via the nozzle 110, and the waste ink absorbed by the ink absorber 330 is discharged to the waste ink cartridge 340 (see FIG. 38) via the tube pump 320. Discharged.

  The tube pump 320 is driven by a motor such as a pulse motor (not shown). The pulse motor is controlled by the control unit 6. Drive information for the rotation control of the tube pump 320, for example, a look-up table in which the rotation speed and the number of rotations are described, a control program in which sequence control is described, and the like are stored in the PROM 64 of the control unit 6 and the like. The tube pump 320 is controlled by the CPU 61 of the controller 6 based on the drive information.

  Next, the operation of the recovery means 24 (ejection abnormality recovery process) will be described. FIG. 40 is a flowchart showing a discharge abnormality recovery process in the inkjet printer 1 (droplet discharge apparatus) of the present invention. When the ejection abnormality nozzle 110 is detected in the above-described ejection abnormality detection / determination process (see the flowchart of FIG. 24) and the cause is determined, printing is performed at a predetermined timing when the printing operation (printing operation) or the like is not performed. The means 3 is moved to a predetermined standby area (for example, a position where the nozzle plate 150 of the printing means 3 is covered with the cap 310 in FIG. 36 or a position where the wiping process by the wiper 300 can be performed), and the discharge abnormality recovery process is performed. Executed.

  First, the control unit 6 determines the determination result corresponding to each nozzle 110 stored in the EEPROM 62 of the control unit 6 in step S107 of FIG. 24 (here, this determination result is a determination result of contents limited to each nozzle 110). However, it is for each inkjet head 100. Therefore, in the following, the ejection abnormal nozzle 110 also means the inkjet head 100 in which the ejection abnormality has occurred) (Step S901). In step S <b> 902, the control unit 6 determines whether or not the ejection determination nozzle 110 is present in the read determination result. When it is determined that there is no ejection abnormal nozzle 110, that is, when droplets are normally ejected from all the nozzles 110, the ejection abnormality recovery processing is terminated as it is.

  On the other hand, if it is determined that any of the nozzles 110 has an ejection abnormality, in step S903, the control unit 6 determines whether or not the nozzle 110 that has been determined to have the ejection abnormality is paper dust adhesion. . If it is determined that paper dust is not attached near the outlet of the nozzle 110, the process proceeds to step S905. If it is determined that paper dust is attached, the above-described wiper 300 is used. A wiping process is performed on the nozzle plate 150 (step S904).

  Next, in step S905, the control unit 6 determines whether or not the nozzle 110 determined to have the ejection abnormality is a mixture of bubbles. If it is determined that bubbles are mixed, the control unit 6 executes pump suction processing by the tube pump 320 for all the nozzles 110 (step S906), and ends this abnormal discharge recovery processing. On the other hand, when it is determined that air bubbles are not mixed, the control unit 6 performs pump suction processing or discharge abnormality by the tube pump 320 based on the length of the residual vibration period of the diaphragm 121 measured by the measuring unit 17. The flushing process for only the nozzles 110 determined to be or all the nozzles 110 is executed (step S907), and the ejection abnormality recovery process is terminated.

FIG. 41 is a view for explaining another configuration example (wiper 300 ′) of the wiper (wiping means), and (a) shows the nozzle surface (nozzle plate 150) of the printing means 3 (head unit 35). FIG. 5B is a diagram showing the wiper 300 ′. FIG. 42 is a diagram illustrating an operating state of the wiper 300 ′ illustrated in FIG.
Hereinafter, a wiper 300 ′, which is another example of the configuration of the wiper, will be described with reference to these drawings. The description will focus on differences from the above-described wiper 300, and description of similar matters will be omitted.

  As shown in FIG. 41A, on the nozzle surface of the printing unit 3, the plurality of nozzles 110 correspond to yellow (Y), magenta (M), cyan (C), and black (K) inks. Then, the nozzle group is divided into four groups. The wiper 300 ′ of the present configuration example can perform wiping processing separately for each nozzle group of each color with respect to these four groups of nozzle groups by the configuration described below.

As shown in FIG. 41B, the wiper 300 ′ includes a wiping member 301a for the yellow nozzle group, a wiping member 301b for the magenta nozzle group, a wiping member 301c for the cyan nozzle group, and a black wiping member 301c. A wiping member 301d for the nozzle group. As shown in FIG. 42, each of the wiping members 301a to 301d can be moved independently in the sub-scanning direction by a moving mechanism (not shown).
The above-described wiper 300 performs wiping processing on the nozzle surfaces of all the nozzles 110 at once. However, according to the wiper 300 ′ of this configuration example, only the nozzle group that requires wiping processing is wiped. Therefore, it is possible to perform a recovery process without waste.

FIG. 43 is a diagram for explaining another configuration example of the pumping means. Hereinafter, another example of the configuration of the pumping means will be described with reference to this figure, but the description will focus on the differences from the pumping means described above, and the description of the same matters will be omitted.
As shown in FIG. 43, the pumping means of this configuration example includes a yellow nozzle group cap 310a, a magenta nozzle group cap 310b, a cyan nozzle group cap 310c, and a black nozzle group. And a cap 310d.

The tube 321 of the tube pump 320 is branched into four branch tubes 325a to 325d, and the branch tubes 325a to 325d are connected to the caps 310a to 310d, respectively. Valves 326a to 326d are provided in the middle of the branch tubes 325a to 325d, respectively.
The pumping means of this configuration example as described above performs pump suction processing separately for each nozzle group of each color for the four nozzle groups of the printing means 3 by selecting opening and closing of the valves 326a to 326d. Can be done. Thereby, since only the nozzle group which needs a pump suction process can be sucked, a recovery process without waste can be performed. FIG. 43 shows an example in which the tube pump 320 sucks with the same tubes 321 for four colors, but the tube pumps 320 may have four tubes for different colors.

  Now, the ink jet printer 1 of the present invention as described above operates according to the following flow when all the nozzles 110 are detected by the ejection abnormality detecting means 10. Hereinafter, in the inkjet printer 1 of the present invention, two patterns will be described in sequence for the subsequent operation flow when detection by the ejection abnormality detection means 10 is performed. First, the first pattern will be described.

[1A] The ink jet printer 1 performs detection by the ejection abnormality detection unit 10 for all the nozzles 110 in the flushing process (flushing operation) or the printing operation as described above.
As a result of this detection, when there is a nozzle 110 (hereinafter referred to as “abnormal nozzle”) in which ejection abnormality has occurred, it is preferable that the inkjet printer 1 informs that fact. The notification means (method) is not particularly limited. For example, the notification means (method) is displayed on the operation panel 7, by sound, alarm sound, lighting of a lamp, or via the interface 9 to the host computer 8 or the like, or Any device may be used, such as one that transmits ejection abnormality information to a print server or the like via a network.

  [2A] When there is a nozzle 110 (abnormal nozzle) in which ejection abnormality has occurred as a result of detection in [1A] (if the printing operation is in progress, the printing operation is interrupted) and the recovery by the recovery means 24 Process. In this case, the recovery means 24 performs the type of recovery processing according to the cause of abnormal discharge of the abnormal nozzle as in the flowchart of FIG. 40 described above. As a result, for example, when the cause of abnormal discharge of the abnormal nozzle is paper dust adhesion, that is, the pump suction processing is not performed until the pump suction processing is not necessary, the ink is wasted. Can be prevented and ink consumption can be reduced. Further, since unnecessary types of recovery processing are not performed, the time required for the recovery processing can be shortened, and the throughput (number of printed sheets per unit time) of the inkjet printer 1 can be improved.

This recovery process may be performed for all nozzles 110, but may be performed for at least abnormal nozzles. For example, when the flushing process is performed as the recovery process, only the abnormal nozzle may perform the flushing operation. Further, when the wiping means and the pumping means are configured to be able to perform recovery processing separately for each color nozzle group as shown in FIGS. 41 to 43, the abnormal nozzles detected in [1A] are detected. You may make it perform a wiping process or a pump suction process only with respect to the nozzle group containing.
Further, in [1A], when a plurality of abnormal nozzles having different causes of ejection abnormality are detected, it is preferable to perform a plurality of types of recovery processing so as to eliminate all the causes of ejection abnormality.

  [3A] When the recovery process of [2A] is completed, the droplet discharge operation is performed only for the abnormal nozzle detected in [1A], and the detection by the discharge abnormality detection means 10 is performed again only for this abnormal nozzle. This makes it possible to confirm whether or not the abnormal nozzle detected in [1A] has returned to a normal state, and thus it is possible to more reliably prevent the occurrence of ejection abnormality in the subsequent printing operation.

Here, only the abnormal nozzle is caused to perform the droplet discharge operation and the detection by the discharge abnormality detection means 10 is performed, so that it is not necessary to discharge ink droplets from the nozzle 110 that is normal in [1A]. Therefore, it is possible to avoid discharging ink wastefully, and it is possible to reduce ink consumption. Furthermore, the burden on the ejection abnormality detection means 10 and the control unit 6 can be reduced.
In addition, when there is a discharge abnormal nozzle 110 even by the detection in [3A], it is preferable to perform the recovery process by the recovery means 24 again.

  Hereinafter, in the inkjet printer 1 of the present invention, a second pattern of the subsequent operation flow when detection by the ejection abnormality detection means 10 is performed will be described. That is, in the present invention, instead of the above [1A] to [3A], control may be performed according to the following flows [1B] to [5B].

[1B] Similarly to [1A], detection by the ejection abnormality detection means 10 is performed for all the nozzles 110.
[2B] When there is a nozzle 110 (hereinafter referred to as “abnormal nozzle”) in which a discharge abnormality has occurred as a result of the detection in [1B] (if the printing operation is being performed, the printing operation is interrupted). ) The flushing process is executed only for the abnormal nozzle. When the cause of abnormal discharge of the abnormal nozzle is minor, the abnormal nozzle can be restored to a normal state by this flushing process. Further, at this time, ink droplets are not ejected from the normal nozzle 110, so that ink is not wasted. When the detection by the discharge abnormality detection means 10 is frequently performed, the cause of the discharge abnormality is often minor. Thus, the flushing process is first performed on the abnormal nozzle regardless of the cause of the discharge abnormality. Thus, the recovery process can be performed efficiently and quickly.

  [3B] When the flushing process of [2B] is finished, the droplet discharge operation is performed only for the abnormal nozzle detected in [1B], and the detection by the discharge abnormality detecting means 10 is performed again only for the abnormal nozzle. This makes it possible to confirm whether or not the abnormal nozzle detected in [1B] has returned to a normal state, and thus it is possible to more reliably prevent the occurrence of ejection abnormality in the subsequent printing operation.

  In addition, here, only the abnormal nozzle is caused to perform the droplet discharge operation and the detection by the discharge abnormality detection means 10 is performed, so that it is not necessary to discharge ink droplets from the nozzle 110 that is normal in [1B]. Therefore, it is possible to avoid discharging ink wastefully, and it is possible to reduce ink consumption. Furthermore, the burden on the ejection abnormality detection means 10 and the control unit 6 can be reduced.

  [4B] As a result of the detection in [3B], when there is a nozzle 110 whose discharge abnormality has not been eliminated (hereinafter referred to as “re-abnormal nozzle”), recovery processing by the recovery means 24 is performed. In this case, the recovery means 24 performs the type of recovery processing according to the cause of the abnormal discharge of the re-abnormal nozzle as in the flowchart of FIG. As a result, for example, when the cause of the ejection abnormality of the re-abnormal nozzle is paper dust adhesion, that is, the pump suction process is not performed until the pump suction process does not need to be performed. It is possible to prevent wasteful discharge, and to reduce ink consumption. Further, since unnecessary types of recovery processing are not performed, the time required for the recovery processing can be shortened, and the throughput (number of printed sheets per unit time) of the inkjet printer 1 can be improved.

Further, since the flushing process is performed in [2B], it is preferable to perform other recovery processes in [4B]. That is, if the cause of the abnormal discharge of the re-nozzle nozzle is air bubbles mixed or dry thickening, the pump suction process is executed, and if paper dust adheres, the wiper process by the wiper 300 or 300 ′ is executed. Is preferred.
[4B] is the same as [2A] except for the points described above.

  [5B] When the recovery process of [4B] is completed, the droplet discharge operation is performed only for the re-abnormal nozzle detected in [3B], and the detection by the discharge abnormality detection means 10 is performed again only for the re-abnormal nozzle. Do. As a result, it is possible to confirm whether or not the re-abnormal nozzle detected in [3B] has recovered to a normal state, so that it is possible to more reliably prevent the occurrence of ejection abnormality in the subsequent printing operation. .

  Further, here, only the re-abnormal nozzle is caused to perform the droplet discharge operation and the detection by the discharge abnormality detection means 10 is performed, so that ink droplets are not discharged from the nozzle 110 that is normal in [1B] and [3B]. That's it. Therefore, it is possible to avoid discharging ink wastefully, and it is possible to reduce ink consumption. Furthermore, the burden on the ejection abnormality detection means 10 and the control unit 6 can be reduced.

  In [1A] to [3A] and [1B] to [5B] described above, after performing the recovery process according to the cause of the ejection abnormality, the flushing process is executed for each nozzle 110 (all nozzles 110). It is preferable to do this. Thereby, it is possible to prevent the inks of the respective colors remaining on the nozzle surface (nozzle plate 150) from being mixed, and it is possible to prevent color mixing of the inks.

  As described above, the droplet discharge device according to the present embodiment does not require other components (for example, an optical dot dropout detection device) as compared with a conventional droplet discharge device that can detect discharge abnormality. Therefore, it is possible to detect a droplet discharge abnormality without increasing the size of the droplet discharge head, and to reduce the manufacturing cost of a droplet discharge apparatus capable of detecting a discharge abnormality (dot missing). it can. Further, since the droplet ejection abnormality is detected by using the residual vibration of the diaphragm after the droplet ejection operation, the droplet ejection abnormality can be detected even during the recording operation.

Second Embodiment
Next, another configuration example of the ink jet head in the present invention will be described. 44 to 47 are cross-sectional views each showing an outline of another configuration example of the inkjet head (head unit). The following description will be made based on these drawings. However, the description will focus on the points different from the above-described embodiment, and the description of the same matters will be omitted.

  In the inkjet head 100 </ b> A shown in FIG. 44, the vibration plate 212 is vibrated by driving the piezoelectric element 200, and ink (liquid) in the cavity 208 is ejected from the nozzle 203. A stainless steel metal plate 204 is bonded to a stainless steel nozzle plate 202 in which a nozzle (hole) 203 is formed via an adhesive film 205, and a similar stainless steel metal plate is further formed thereon. 204 is joined via an adhesive film 205. Further, a communication port forming plate 206 and a cavity plate 207 are sequentially joined thereon.

  The nozzle plate 202, the metal plate 204, the adhesive film 205, the communication port forming plate 206, and the cavity plate 207 are each formed into a predetermined shape (a shape in which a concave portion is formed). A reservoir 209 is formed. The cavity 208 and the reservoir 209 communicate with each other via the ink supply port 210. The reservoir 209 communicates with the ink intake port 211.

A diaphragm 212 is installed in the upper surface opening of the cavity plate 207, and a piezoelectric element (piezo element) 200 is joined to the diaphragm 212 via a lower electrode 213. An upper electrode 214 is bonded to the opposite side of the piezoelectric element 200 from the lower electrode 213. The head drive 215 includes a drive circuit that generates a drive voltage waveform. When the drive voltage waveform is applied (supplied) between the upper electrode 214 and the lower electrode 213, the piezoelectric element 200 vibrates and is bonded thereto. The diaphragm 212 vibrates. The vibration of the vibration plate 212 changes the volume of the cavity 208 (pressure in the cavity), and the ink (liquid) filled in the cavity 208 is ejected from the nozzle 203 as droplets.
The amount of liquid that has decreased in the cavity 208 due to the ejection of droplets is supplied by supplying ink from the reservoir 209. Further, ink is supplied to the reservoir 209 from the ink intake port 211.

In the inkjet head 100B shown in FIG. 45, the ink (liquid) in the cavity 221 is ejected from the nozzles by driving the piezoelectric element 200 as described above. The inkjet head 100 </ b> B has a pair of opposed substrates 220, and a plurality of piezoelectric elements 200 are intermittently installed between the substrates 220 at a predetermined interval.
A cavity 221 is formed between adjacent piezoelectric elements 200. 45, a plate (not shown) is provided at the front of the cavity 221 in FIG. 45, and a nozzle plate 222 is provided at the rear. A nozzle (hole) 223 is formed at a position corresponding to each cavity 221 of the nozzle plate 222. .

  A pair of electrodes 224 are respectively provided on one surface and the other surface of each piezoelectric element 200. That is, four electrodes 224 are bonded to one piezoelectric element 200. By applying a predetermined drive voltage waveform between predetermined electrodes among these electrodes 224, the piezoelectric element 200 is deformed and vibrated in the shear mode (indicated by an arrow in FIG. 45). The pressure in the cavity) changes, and the ink (liquid) filled in the cavity 221 is ejected as droplets from the nozzle 223. That is, in the inkjet head 100B, the piezoelectric element 200 itself functions as a diaphragm.

  Similarly to the above, the inkjet head 100 </ b> C shown in FIG. 46 ejects ink (liquid) in the cavity 233 from the nozzle 231 by driving the piezoelectric element 200. The ink jet head 100 </ b> C includes a nozzle plate 230 on which nozzles 231 are formed, a spacer 232, and a piezoelectric element 200. The piezoelectric element 200 is installed at a predetermined distance from the nozzle plate 230 via a spacer 232, and a cavity 233 is formed in a space surrounded by the nozzle plate 230, the piezoelectric element 200, and the spacer 232.

  A plurality of electrodes are joined to the upper surface of the piezoelectric element 200 in FIG. That is, the first electrode 234 is joined to the substantially central portion of the piezoelectric element 200, and the second electrodes 235 are joined to both sides thereof. When a predetermined driving voltage waveform is applied between the first electrode 234 and the second electrode 235, the piezoelectric element 200 is deformed and vibrates in the shear mode (indicated by an arrow in FIG. 46). The volume (pressure in the cavity) changes, and the ink (liquid) filled in the cavity 233 is ejected as droplets from the nozzle 231. That is, in the inkjet head 100C, the piezoelectric element 200 itself functions as a diaphragm.

In the inkjet head 100D shown in FIG. 47, the ink (liquid) in the cavity 245 is ejected from the nozzle 241 by driving the piezoelectric element 200 in the same manner as described above. The inkjet head 100D includes a nozzle plate 240 on which nozzles 241 are formed, a cavity plate 242, a vibration plate 243, and a laminated piezoelectric element 201 formed by laminating a plurality of piezoelectric elements 200.
The cavity plate 242 is formed into a predetermined shape (a shape in which a concave portion is formed), whereby the cavity 245 and the reservoir 246 are formed. The cavity 245 and the reservoir 246 communicate with each other via the ink supply port 247. The reservoir 246 communicates with the ink cartridge 31 through the ink supply tube 311.

  The lower end in FIG. 47 of the laminated piezoelectric element 201 is joined to the diaphragm 243 via the intermediate layer 244. A plurality of external electrodes 248 and internal electrodes 249 are joined to the laminated piezoelectric element 201. That is, the external electrode 248 is bonded to the outer surface of the laminated piezoelectric element 201, and the internal electrode 249 is installed between the piezoelectric elements 200 constituting the laminated piezoelectric element 201 (or inside each piezoelectric element). ing. In this case, the external electrode 248 and a part of the internal electrode 249 are alternately arranged so as to overlap in the thickness direction of the piezoelectric element 200.

Then, by applying a driving voltage waveform from the head driver 33 between the external electrode 248 and the internal electrode 249, the laminated piezoelectric element 201 is deformed as shown by the arrow in FIG. And the vibration plate 243 vibrates. The volume of the cavity 245 (pressure in the cavity) is changed by the vibration of the vibration plate 243, and the ink (liquid) filled in the cavity 245 is ejected as droplets from the nozzle 241.
The amount of liquid that has decreased in the cavity 245 due to the ejection of droplets is supplied by supplying ink from the reservoir 246. Ink is supplied to the reservoir 246 from the ink cartridge 31 via the ink supply tube 311.

  In the inkjet heads 100A to 100D including the piezoelectric elements as described above, droplet ejection is performed based on the vibration plate or the residual vibration of the piezoelectric element functioning as the vibration plate, in the same manner as the electrostatic capacitance type inkjet head 100 described above. It is possible to detect the abnormality or to identify the cause of the abnormality. Note that the inkjet heads 100B and 100C may be configured such that a diaphragm (residual vibration detection diaphragm) serving as a sensor is provided at a position facing the cavity and the residual vibration of the diaphragm is detected. .

<Third Embodiment>
Next, still another configuration example of the ink jet head in the present invention will be described. FIG. 48 is a perspective view showing the configuration of the head unit 35 in the present embodiment, and FIG. 49 is a cross-sectional view of the head unit 35 (inkjet head 100H) shown in FIG. The following description will be made based on these drawings. However, the description will focus on the points different from the above-described embodiment, and the description of the same matters will be omitted.

The head unit 35 (ink jet head 100H) shown in FIGS. 48 and 49 is based on a so-called film boiling ink jet method (thermal jet method), and includes a support plate 410, a substrate 420, outer walls 430 and partition walls 431, and a top plate 440. Are the structures joined in this order from the lower side in FIGS. 48 and 49.
The substrate 420 and the top plate 440 are disposed at a predetermined interval via the outer wall 430 and a plurality of (six in the illustrated example) partition walls 431 arranged in parallel at equal intervals. A plurality (five in the illustrated example) of cavities (pressure chambers: ink chambers) 141 defined by the partition walls 431 are formed between the substrate 420 and the top plate 440. Each cavity 141 has a strip shape (cuboid shape).

As shown in FIGS. 48 and 49, the left end portion (upper end in FIG. 48) of each cavity 141 in FIG. 49 is covered with a nozzle plate (front plate) 433. The nozzle plate 433 is formed with nozzles (holes) 110 communicating with the cavities 141, and ink (liquid material) is ejected from the nozzles 110.
In FIG. 48, the nozzles 110 are arranged linearly, that is, in a row with respect to the nozzle plate 433, but it goes without saying that the nozzle arrangement pattern is not limited to this.

The nozzle plate 433 may not be provided, and the upper end of each cavity 141 in FIG. 48 (left end in FIG. 49) may be open, and the open opening may be a nozzle.
Further, the top plate 440 is formed with an ink intake port 441, and the ink intake port 441 is connected to the ink cartridge 31 via an ink supply tube 311.

  Heat generating elements 450 are respectively installed (embedded) at locations corresponding to the respective cavities 141 of the substrate 420. Each heating element 450 is energized separately by a head driver (energizing means) 33 including the drive circuit 18 to generate heat. The head driver 33 outputs, for example, a pulse signal as a drive signal for the heating element 450 in accordance with a print signal (print data) input from the control unit 6.

The surface of the heating element 450 on the cavity 141 side is covered with a protective film (anti-cavitation film) 451. The protective film 451 is provided to prevent the heating element 450 from coming into direct contact with the ink in the cavity 141. By providing the protective film 451, it is possible to prevent deterioration or deterioration due to the heating element 450 coming into contact with ink.
Concave portions 460 are respectively formed at locations corresponding to the cavities 141 in the vicinity of the heating elements 450 of the substrate 420. The recess 460 can be formed by a method such as etching or punching.

A diaphragm (diaphragm) 461 is installed so as to shield the cavity 141 side of the recess 460. The diaphragm 461 is elastically deformed (elastically displaced) in the vertical direction in FIG. 49 following the change in pressure (hydraulic pressure) in the cavity 141.
The diaphragm 461 also functions as an electrode. The diaphragm 461 may be entirely conductive, or may be a laminate of a conductive layer and an insulating layer.

On the other hand, the other side of the recess 460 is covered with a support plate 410, and an electrode (segment electrode) 462 is provided at a position corresponding to each vibration plate 461 on the upper surface of the support plate 410 in FIG. Has been.
The diaphragm 461 and the electrode 462 are arranged so as to face each other substantially in parallel with a predetermined gap distance.

  In this way, a parallel plate capacitor can be formed by disposing the diaphragm 461 and the electrode 462 at a slight distance. When the diaphragm 461 follows the pressure in the cavity 141 and is elastically displaced (deformed) in the vertical direction in FIG. 49, the gap distance between the diaphragm 461 and the electrode 462 changes accordingly, and the parallel plate The capacitance of the capacitor changes. In the inkjet head 100H, the diaphragm 461 and the electrode 462 function as a sensor that detects an abnormality of the inkjet head 100H based on a change with time of the capacitance due to vibration (residual vibration (damped vibration)) of the diaphragm 461. To do.

A common electrode 470 is formed outside the cavity 141 of the substrate 420. A segment electrode 471 is formed outside the cavity 141 of the support plate 410. The electrode 462, the common electrode 470, and the segment electrode 471 can be formed by a method such as bonding of metal foil, plating, vapor deposition, or sputtering, respectively.
Each diaphragm 461 and the common electrode 470 are electrically connected by a conductor 475, and each electrode 462 and each segment electrode 471 are electrically connected by a conductor 476.
As the conductors 475 and 476, [1] a conductor wire such as a metal wire is provided, and [2] a thin film made of a conductive material such as gold or copper is formed on the surface of the substrate 420 or the support plate 410, respectively. Or [3] a conductor-forming site such as the substrate 420 or the like that is subjected to ion doping or the like to impart conductivity.

Next, the operation (operation principle) of the inkjet head 100H will be described.
When a driving signal (pulse signal) is output from the head driver 33 and the heating element 450 is energized, the heating element 450 instantaneously generates a temperature of 300 ° C. or higher. As a result, a bubble 480 (different from the bubble generated and mixed in the cavity causing the discharge abnormality) 480 is generated on the protective film 451, and the bubble 480 expands instantaneously. As a result, the liquid pressure of the ink (liquid material) filled in the cavity 141 increases, and a part of the ink is ejected from the nozzle 110 as droplets.
The amount of liquid reduced in the cavity 141 due to the ejection of ink droplets is replenished by supplying new ink from the ink intake port 441 into the cavity 141. This ink is supplied from the ink cartridge 31 through the ink supply tube 311.

  Immediately after the ink droplet is ejected, the bubble 480 contracts rapidly and returns to its original state. The vibration plate 461 is elastically displaced (deformed) due to the pressure change in the cavity 141 at this time, and damped vibration (residual vibration) is generated until the next drive signal is input and the ink droplet is ejected again. . When the vibration plate 461 generates a damped vibration, the capacitance of the capacitor formed by the vibration plate 461 and the electrode 462 opposed to the vibration plate 461 changes accordingly. In the inkjet head 100H of the present embodiment, an ejection abnormality can be detected using the change with time of the electrostatic capacitance as in the inkjet head 100 of the first embodiment described above.

  The liquid droplet ejection apparatus and the ink jet printer according to the present invention have been described based on the illustrated embodiments. However, the present invention is not limited to this, and constitutes a liquid droplet ejection head or a liquid droplet ejection apparatus. Each part can be replaced with any component that can exhibit the same function. In addition, any other component may be added to the droplet discharge head or the droplet discharge apparatus of the present invention.

The discharge target liquid (droplet) discharged from the droplet discharge head (in the above-described embodiment, the inkjet head 100) of the droplet discharge apparatus of the present invention is not particularly limited. It can be a liquid containing a material (including a dispersion such as a suspension or an emulsion). That is, a filter material (ink) for a color filter, a light emitting material for forming an EL light emitting layer in an organic EL (Electro Luminescence) device, a fluorescent material for forming a phosphor on an electrode in an electron emitting device, PDP (Plasma Fluorescent material for forming phosphors in display panel devices, migrating material for forming electrophores in electrophoretic display devices, bank materials for forming banks on the surface of the substrate W, various coating materials, and electrodes Liquid electrode material to form, a particle material to form a spacer for forming a minute cell gap between two substrates, a liquid metal material to form a metal wiring, a lens material to form a microlens, Used for resist materials, light diffusion materials for forming light diffusers, biosensors such as DNA chips and protein chips Various test liquid materials.
Further, in the present invention, the droplet receiver to which droplets are to be ejected is not limited to paper such as recording paper, but to other media such as films, woven fabrics, nonwoven fabrics, glass substrates, silicon substrates, etc. It may be a workpiece such as various substrates.

  Further, in the droplet discharge device of the present invention, the means and method for detecting the discharge abnormality and the cause thereof are not limited to the method for detecting and analyzing the vibration pattern of the residual vibration of the diaphragm as described above. Even if such a detection method is used, if the cause of the ejection abnormality is specified, an appropriate recovery process can be selected. As a method of detecting abnormal discharge (missing dots), for example, an optical sensor such as a laser is directly irradiated and reflected on the ink meniscus in the nozzle, the vibration state of the meniscus is detected by the light receiving element, and the cause of clogging is identified from the vibration state The presence or absence of liquid droplets can be determined based on the measurement results of the elapsed time after the discharge operation and the general optical dot dropout detection device (detecting whether or not the flying liquid droplets have entered the detection range of the sensor) Based on the time-lapse data of the inkjet head when a dot dropout is detected, the phenomenon that occurred within the drying time is estimated as dry, and the phenomenon that occurred outside the drying time is estimated as paper dust or bubbles. If a vibration sensor is added to the method or the above configuration, and it is determined whether vibration that may contain bubbles is added before dot dropout occurs, Method for estimating the presence of bubbles (in this case, the means for detecting missing dots need not be limited to an optical type. For example, a thermal sensing type that detects temperature changes in the thermal sensing unit by receiving ink ejection, or an ink drop is used. A method of detecting a change in the amount of charge of a detection electrode that has been charged, discharged, and landed, or a capacitance-type detection that changes as an ink droplet passes between the electrodes) may be used. As a detection method, a method of detecting the state of the head surface as image information by a camera or the like, or a method of detecting the presence or absence of paper dust by scanning an optical sensor such as a laser in the vicinity of the head surface can be considered.

  Further, the pump suction recovery process, which is one of the recovery processes executed by the recovery means 24, is an effective process for the case where the viscosity increases due to drying or the like and the case where air bubbles are mixed in. Therefore, when air bubbles mixed in the head unit that require pump suction processing and the ink jet head 100 with dry thickening is detected, individually as in steps S905 to S907 in the flowchart of FIG. The pump suction process may be executed on the inkjet head 100 mixed with bubbles and the dry-thickened inkjet head 100 at a time without determining the process. That is, after determining whether or not paper dust is attached in the vicinity of the nozzle 110, the pump suction process may be executed without determining whether air bubbles are mixed in or dry thickening.

  DESCRIPTION OF SYMBOLS 1 ... Inkjet printer 2 ... Apparatus main body 21 ... Tray 22 ... Paper discharge port 3 ... Printing means 31 ... Ink cartridge 311 ... Ink supply tube 32 ... Carriage 33 ... Head driver 34 ... Connection part 35... Head unit 4... Printing device 41... Carriage motor 42 .. Reciprocating mechanism 421... Timing belt 422... Carriage guide shaft 43 ... Carriage motor driver 44. ... Feeding motor 52 ... Feeding roller 52a ... Driving roller 52b ... Driving roller 53 ... Feeding motor driver 6 ... Control unit 61 ... CPU 62 ... EEPROM (storage means) 63 ... RAM 64 ... ... PROM 7 ... Operation panel 8 ... Host computer 9 ... IF 10, 10a to 10e ... Discharge abnormality detection means 11 ... Oscillation circuit 111 ... Schmitt trigger inverter 112 ... Resistive element 12 ... F / V conversion circuit 13 ... Constant current source 14 ... Buffer 15 ... Waveform shaping Circuit 151 …… Amplifier (op-amp) 152 …… Comparator (comparator) 16 …… Residual vibration detection means 17 …… Measurement means 18 …… Drive circuit 181 …… Drive waveform generation means 182 …… Discharge selection means 182a …… Shift Register 182b ... Latch circuit 182c ... Driver 19 ... Switch control means 19a ... Switch selection means (selector) 20 ... Determining means 23, 23a-23e ... Switch means 24 ... Recovery means 100 ... Head unit 100 , 100a to 100e... Inkjet head 110... Nozzle 120 ... Electrostatic actuator 121 ... Diaphragm (bottom wall) 122 ... Segment electrode 123 ... Insulating layer 124 ... Common electrode 124a ... Input terminal 130 ... Damper chamber 131 ... Ink intake port 132 ... Damper 140 ... Silicon substrate 141 ... Cavity 142 ... Ink supply port 143 ... Reservoir 150 ... Nozzle plate 160 ... Glass substrate 161 ... Concavity 162 ... Opposing wall 170 ... Base 200 ... Piezoelectric element 201 ... Multilayer Piezoelectric elements 202, 222, 230, 240 ... Nozzle plates 203, 223, 231, 241 ... Nozzles 204 ... Metal plates 205 ... Adhesive films 206 ... Communication port forming plates 207, 242 ... Cavity plates 208, 221 233, 245 ... cavity 209, 246 ... Reservoir 210, 247 ... Ink supply port 211 ... Ink intake port 212, 243 ... Diaphragm 213 ... Lower electrode 214 ... Upper electrode 215 ... Head drive 220 ... Substrate 224 ... Electrode 232 …… Spacer 234 …… First electrode 235 …… Second electrode 244 …… Intermediate layer 248 …… External electrode 249 …… Internal electrode 300, 300 ′. ˜310d …… Cap 320 …… Tube pump (rotary pump) 321 …… (flexible) tube 322 …… Rotating body 322a …… Shaft 323 …… Roller 325a to 325d …… Branch tube 326a to 326d …… Valve 330: Ink absorber 340: Waste ink cartridge 350 ... Guide member 351 ... Guide 410 ... Support plate 420 ... Substrate 430 ... Outer wall 431 ... Partition 433 ... Nozzle plate (front plate) 440 ... Top plate 441 ... Ink intake port 450 ... ... heating element 451 ... protective film (cavitation film) 460 ... recess 461 ... diaphragm 462 ... counter electrode 470 ... common electrode 471 ... segment electrode 475 ... conductor 746 ... conductor 480 ... bubble P ... ... Recording sheets S101 to S111, S201 to S211, S401 to S408, S501 to S506, S601 to S609, S701 to S707, S801 to S811, S901 to S907...

Claims (4)

  1. Drive waveform generation means for generating a drive signal;
    A piezoelectric element that is displaced in response to the drive signal, a cavity that is filled with a liquid and whose internal pressure is increased or decreased by the displacement of the piezoelectric element, and a pressure that increases or decreases in the cavity communicated with the cavity. A nozzle that discharges the liquid as droplets, and a first droplet discharge head capable of discharging droplets;
    A piezoelectric element that is displaced in response to the drive signal, a cavity that is filled with a liquid and whose internal pressure is increased or decreased by the displacement of the piezoelectric element, and a pressure that increases or decreases in the cavity communicated with the cavity. A nozzle that discharges the liquid as droplets, and a second droplet discharge head capable of discharging the droplets;
    A rectangular wave generated from the residual vibration by detecting a change in the piezoelectric element based on a pressure change in the cavity that occurs after the drive signal is supplied to the piezoelectric element of the first droplet discharge head. First discharge abnormality detection means for detecting a discharge abnormality of the nozzle and identifying the cause of the discharge abnormality based on the waveform of
    A rectangular wave generated from the residual vibration by detecting a change in the piezoelectric element based on a pressure change in the cavity that occurs after the drive signal is supplied to the piezoelectric element of the second droplet discharge head. A second discharge abnormality detecting means for detecting a discharge abnormality of the nozzle and identifying a cause of the discharge abnormality based on the waveform of
    It is possible to perform a plurality of types of recovery processing for eliminating the cause of the discharge abnormality, and based on the cause of the discharge abnormality specified by the first discharge abnormality detection unit and the second discharge abnormality detection unit, A recovery means for selecting the predetermined recovery process from the recovery processes of the seed and performing the predetermined recovery process;
    The drive signal generated by the drive waveform generation means is applied to the piezoelectric element of the first droplet discharge head, or the residual vibration in the first droplet discharge head generated with the application of the drive signal is First switching means arranged to switch between detecting by the first discharge abnormality detecting means;
    The drive signal generated by the drive waveform generation means is applied to the piezoelectric element of the second droplet discharge head, or the residual vibration in the second droplet discharge head generated with the application of the drive signal is A second switching means arranged to switch between detecting by the second discharge abnormality detecting means;
    Anda discharge selecting means for selecting a driving signal applied to the first droplet ejection head and the second droplet ejection heads,
    The ejection selection means includes a shift register for storing print data for ejecting droplets from the first droplet ejection head and the second droplet ejection head;
    A latch circuit that matches the print timing with the print data;
    A driver that selects the drive signal based on the print data and applies the drive signal to the first droplet ejection head and the second droplet ejection head;
    A droplet ejection apparatus, wherein the detection of ejection abnormality of the nozzle of the first droplet ejection head and the detection of ejection abnormality of the nozzle of the second droplet ejection head are performed in parallel.
  2.   2. The droplet discharge apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the detection of the discharge abnormality of the nozzle of the first droplet discharge head and the detection of the discharge abnormality of the nozzle of the second droplet discharge head are performed during flushing.
  3. The first switching means electrically connects the first droplet discharge head and the drive waveform generation means,
    The second switching means electrically connects the second droplet discharge head and the drive waveform generation means,
    After applying the drive signal generated by the drive waveform generating means to both the first droplet discharge head and the second droplet discharge head,
    The first switching means electrically disconnects the first droplet discharge head and the drive waveform generation means,
    The second switching means electrically disconnects the second droplet discharge head and the drive waveform generation means,
    Electrically connecting the first droplet discharge head and the first discharge abnormality detection means by the first switching means;
    Electrically connecting the second droplet discharge head and the second discharge abnormality detection means by the second switching means;
    A first abnormality detection of the nozzle of the first droplet discharge head by the first discharge abnormality detection means;
    The droplet discharge apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the second abnormality detection of the nozzle of the second droplet discharge head by the second discharge abnormality detection unit is performed in parallel.
  4. Drive waveform generation means for generating a drive signal;
    A piezoelectric element that is displaced in response to the drive signal, a cavity that is filled with a liquid and whose internal pressure is increased or decreased by the displacement of the piezoelectric element, and a pressure that increases or decreases in the cavity communicated with the cavity. A nozzle that discharges the liquid as droplets, and a first droplet discharge head capable of discharging droplets;
    A piezoelectric element that is displaced in response to the drive signal, a cavity that is filled with a liquid and whose internal pressure is increased or decreased by the displacement of the piezoelectric element, and a pressure that increases or decreases in the cavity communicated with the cavity. A nozzle that discharges the liquid as droplets, and a second droplet discharge head capable of discharging the droplets;
    A rectangular wave generated from the residual vibration by detecting a change in the piezoelectric element based on a pressure change in the cavity that occurs after the drive signal is supplied to the piezoelectric element of the first droplet discharge head. First discharge abnormality detection means for detecting a discharge abnormality of the nozzle and identifying the cause of the discharge abnormality based on the waveform of
    A rectangular wave generated from the residual vibration by detecting a change in the piezoelectric element based on a pressure change in the cavity that occurs after the drive signal is supplied to the piezoelectric element of the second droplet discharge head. A second discharge abnormality detecting means for detecting a discharge abnormality of the nozzle and identifying a cause of the discharge abnormality based on the waveform of
    It is possible to perform a plurality of types of recovery processing for eliminating the cause of the discharge abnormality, and based on the cause of the discharge abnormality specified by the first discharge abnormality detection unit and the second discharge abnormality detection unit, A recovery means for selecting the predetermined recovery process from the recovery processes of the seed and performing the predetermined recovery process;
    First switching means;
    A second switching means;
    A shift register, a latch circuit, and a driver, the droplet discharge device having a discharge selecting means for selecting a driving signal applied to the first droplet ejection head and the second droplet ejection heads A droplet discharge method comprising:
    The first switching unit performs switching so that the first droplet discharge head is electrically connected to the drive waveform generating unit, and the second switching unit causes the second droplet discharge head to move to the drive waveform. Switching is performed so as to be electrically connected to the generation unit, and the drive waveform generation unit discharges droplets to the piezoelectric element of the first droplet discharge head and the piezoelectric element of the second droplet discharge head. Generating and applying a drive signal for
    The first switching unit performs switching so that the first liquid droplet ejection head is electrically connected to the first ejection abnormality detecting unit, and the first ejection abnormality detecting unit accompanies the application of the drive signal. Detecting the residual vibration in the generated first droplet discharge head, detecting the discharge abnormality of the nozzle based on the waveform of the rectangular wave generated from the residual vibration, and identifying the cause of the discharge abnormality; ,
    The second switching unit performs switching so that the second droplet ejection head is electrically connected to the second ejection abnormality detecting unit, and the second ejection abnormality detecting unit accompanies the application of the drive signal. Detecting the residual vibration in the generated second droplet discharge head, detecting discharge abnormality of the nozzle based on the waveform of the rectangular wave generated from the residual vibration, and identifying the cause of the discharge abnormality; ,
    A recovery process for eliminating the cause of the discharge abnormality by the recovery means, and
    In the step of generating and applying the drive signal, the shift register stores print data for discharging droplets from the first droplet discharge head and the second droplet discharge head, and the latch circuit , Adjusting the print timing by the print data, selecting the drive signal based on the print data by the driver, and applying the drive signal to the first droplet discharge head and the second droplet discharge head,
    The detection of the discharge abnormality of the nozzle of the first droplet discharge head and the detection of the discharge abnormality of the nozzle of the second droplet discharge head are performed in parallel.
    In the step of performing the recovery process, the recovery unit is configured to perform a predetermined process from the plurality of types of recovery processes based on the cause of the discharge abnormality specified by the first discharge abnormality detection unit and the second discharge abnormality detection unit. A droplet discharge method comprising selecting a recovery process and performing the predetermined recovery process.
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