Thin-Film Piezoelectric Technology

Thin-Film Piezoelectric Technology

Epson's thin-film piezoelectric (TFP) technology lies at the heart of PrecisionCore. This is the technology that is used to Fabricates piezoelectric elements on silicon wafers by depositing uniform, homogeneous films a mere micron (one one-thousandth of a millimeter) in thickness.

Micro Piezo printheads

Epson's Micro Piezo printheads use the mechanical motion of piezoelectric elements that contract under an applied voltage to eject droplets of ink from tiny nozzles. Since our printing systems form images by directly depositing droplets of ink on sheets of paper or other media, they generate virtually no waste ink, are far superior to analog and laser printing systems in terms of environmental performance and efficiency, and can theoretically print on almost any medium.

Forming thin films

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Given the same thickness, a piezoelectric element with a smaller surface area will generally have a lower displacement than a piezoelectric element with a greater surface area. Consequently, increasing printhead resolution decreases the displacement of the piezoelectric elements and thus the volume of ink that can be jetted at one time from a nozzle. However, achieving high image quality at high speeds requires piezoelectric elements with greater displacement.

Thinner piezoelectric elements generally have higher displacement. Conventional Micro Piezo printheads are created by precisely machining the piezoelectric elements. For PrecisionCore print chips, however, Epson uses a proprietary piezoelectric material and process to form piezoelectric elements just one micron thick, resulting in dramatically improved performance.

New possibilities for thin-film piezoelectric technology

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Epson uses its proprietary crystallization technology to form high-quality, sintered ceramic crystals with a consistent orientation. We used this technology to establish a process for forming piezoelectric crystal films a mere one micron thick. These thin-film piezoelectric elements have a uniform crystal structure, which allows a large and uniform displacement. Actuators that use these piezoelectric elements have a dramatically higher nozzle density and maximize the output of ink from small printheads.

The raw materials for the thin-film piezoelectric elements themselves are manufactured in-house. Moreover, Epson independently developed the chemical reactions and synthesizing equipment used to elaborate the raw materials. Having access to the best piezoelectric materials to meet the performance requirements of the piezoelectric elements is a huge advantage for Epson.

PrecisionCore printheads are made by combining thin-film piezoelectric elements with nozzles, ink chambers, and other parts that are fabricated on a submicron level using MEMS technology. The addition of Epson's advanced meniscus control technology and Variable Sized Droplet Technology (VSDT) contribute to both dramatic speed and print quality.

A product of thin-film piezoelectric technology, PrecisionCore printheads can greatly expand the possibilities of inkjet printing.

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