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Why we use ... non spill couplings.

The Specialty Printing Systems (SPS) division of Hewlett-Packard focuses on integrating HP's thermal inkjet (TIJ) technology and products into customer's printing systems. Recently, SPS designed a flexible bulk ink delivery system for high-volume print runs to be used in industrial packaging applications, with the goals of offering superior print quality, low cost per copy, and minimal user intervention. The Versatile Bulk Ink Delivery System allows a bulk ink supply to be connected to one or several print cartridges. A fluid regulator system enables the ink supply to be located in virtually any location convenient for the printing system, and still maintain reliable and controlled ink delivery to the print cartridges. The modular ink supply station is linked through flexible tubing to the enclosed regulator assembly, which maintains pressure and ink flow. Flexible tubes again connect the enclosed regulator assembly to the individual printhead stalls holding the printheads. "Designed for companies that execute large print runs and have a need for a high-volume ink delivery system, the Versatile Black Bulk Ink System extends our TIK 2.5 printing platform," says Daniel L. Briley, engineering manager, HP Specialty Printing Systems.

The OEM system allows design engineers the opportunity to configure almost any combination of HP Q2320A printheads and HP Q2321A bulk ink supplies to achieve the desired print capability. The HP Q2320A printhead also produces a high-quality, water-fast, crisp output with a 600 dpi resolution from 300 nozzles. The system uses black-pigmented aqueous ink in large 350 cc volume ink supplies that can print on a wide range of substrates, including kraft, corrugated, and clay coated media. The industrial bulk ink delivery system is widely used for mail addressing, mail postage, carton coding, barcode printers, and many industrial applications that require long production runs, low cost per imprint, and reliable, user friendly printing systems.

When SPS was developing this system, the engineers looked for a reliable, easy-to-use connection for coupling the ink cartridge to the machine. The mechanical connections between the regulator assembly and the printheads are essential parts of the ink delivery system. Connections that are not secure or spill-proof can lead to messy ink spills when disconnected and require increased operator involvement. The result can be costly job downtime.

After investigating a number of off-the-shelf fluid connectors from different sources, the HP engineering team selected a non-spill quick-disconnect coupling that ensured safe and secure connection. The SPS design team approached Colder Products Co (CPC), St Paul, MN, to develop customized couplings for the new system that would minimize connection concerns and improve the serviceability of the printheads and ink supply system. "We suggested using a coupler with a non-spill shut-off valve," says Andy Hass, industrial business unit manager, CPC. "This augmented the product design by helping to avoid messy ink spillage when the coupler is disconnected." The tubing between the enclosed regulator assembly and the printheads can be connected and disconnected easily via the NS4 Series NonSpill Coupling. In addition to minimizing spills, the valve also automatically reduces air inclusion or trapped air that may lead to print quality problems and expensive system delays and maintenance.

"One feature that makes our couplings unique is an easy-to-use thumb latch to allow for secure, single-handed operation," says Hass. "An audible "click" confirms that a secure connection is made and assures a secure seal." No tools are required to connect or disconnect the tubing, and special training is not necessary for regular operation of the thermal inkjet system.

"The CPC experts worked very closely with our engineers to create a custom product that met our needs and strengthened our entire system," notes Briley. "This strong partnership has enabled us to meet our cost, performance, and schedule targets, and offer a superior solution by virtually eliminating the potential for spills. These connectors enable our OEM customers to design a very modular, flexible, clean and reliable printing solution tailored to the end user needs. They can be placed in line to make the ink supply and the print heads easily accessible and interchangeable. Because printheads are separate from ink supplies, part changes have less impact on the running system."


Circle 272--SPS div. of Hewlett-Packard, or connect directly at

Circle 273--Colder Products Co., or connect directly at

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Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2005
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