Circuit Board Manufacturers Using Ink-jet Printers

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Back in 2010, we took a step into the unknown and bought an Ink-jet Printer to print our PCB Idents (or Legend, or Comp. Ref…take your pick!)

Although we’d seen such machines in action with printed circuit board manufacturers elsewhere, it was unclear at first how such a system would fit into our operation or how it would fit in with our existing pcb tooling methods especially when compared with the tried and trusted Screen Printing method.

We needn’t have worried. Once the machine and the on-board computer had been set up by the friendly engineers from Viking, programming and operation was fairly straight forward.

Why move away from such a successful operation as Screen Printing though? And what does Direct Ink-jet Printing deliver that screen print can’t in the pcb manufacturing process?

Well, we had begun to realise that as PCB’s were becoming more and more complex, with ever more SMT components competing for space alongside more conventional components, that accuracy and fine-line printing and numbering may present a problem at some point…and we realised that point was fast approaching.

It became, almost instantly, clear that the MJ6151l Printer would deliver. The accuracy and quality of the print was outstanding, producing results that were beyond our expectations and at a speed that fitted in very well with our fast turn-round Prototype service.

Along the way, we started to discover some of its other uses: An X-Out option for identifying any bad circuits on a panel, and printing consecutive Serial Numbers on multiple PCB’s to name but two. No doubt there is much more we have yet to find out.

Are there any drawbacks? Well, to paraphrase the great Henry Ford, “You can have any colour you like as long as it’s white!”, but I’m sure there are people working on that right now. There may already be a solution out there so if there is, get in touch and share it!

As one of the first people in the Company to program and operate the machine, I’m convinced it’s the way forward and if there are any points you’d like to discuss, then feel free to contact me.

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