I call my buddy Steve a genius. If you were at dinner tonight you would too. I dumped all the new found data I could on him tonight. Nothing intimidated him. In fact each new piece I shared only drew him closer to better understanding the hidden science behind these X900 printheads. Turns out as complex as these things are, they're also pretty simple. I can't say we know exactly how every element of them work, but I can say we are getting pretty dam close. I will explain this all in time, in a language I am comfortable with - images. But this will take some work. For now I'd like to share our most recent discovery - the third dimension of piezoelectric nozzle boards.
Up until this point (or point of view) one major unsolved mystery has been tracking the path of ink through the face of the piezo nozzle board. As you can see from my previous posts, ink has a bit of traveling to do in order to get to the actual piezo nozzles just under each hole in the face of the printhead. The reality behind these nozzles is actually very different than any illustrations that I have seen. These "nozzles" are not actually nozzles at all. Instead they are more like chambers. Each chamber is surrounded by it's walls, which flex when electrically charged. When these walls flex, the ink that is between them gets forced down (or across actually - since our heads sit sideways on the printer) the path of least resistance. In the case of these X900 printheads, that path is out the face of the printhead and on to your print. For sure the ink won't travel back into the head instead, because of the pressure backing up the ink in the supply lines - and throughout all the chambers (and tunnels) in the piezoboard.
Hold on there I just used a new word. Two in fact - chambers and tunnels. Like I said "up until this point - of view - one major mystery has been tracking the path of ink through the face of the piezo nozzle board." I shot video of ink entering a piezoboard and filling all the chambers. It makes no sense though, I can't track it. Somehow the chambers just get filled. Remember there is only one ink supply port per channel - it is pretty small relative to the size of the channel board that it supplies with ink. The bottom of a channel board is solid, no ink enters or exits out the bottom. The top of a channel board sits smack up against the thin sheet metal printhead face. No ink flows between the sheet metal face and the channel board - if it did the different inks in each channel pair would flow together. So it is confirmed then, the only way for ink to travel from the supply port, to the nozzles, is THROUGH the channel board.
...feel like blowing your mind right now? Imagine this - a channel board measures only about 1/32", or .8000mm thin. That's pretty lean actually, yet somehow it is perforated not only vertically (seen in various pics I have recently uploaded here), but also in fact horizontally - on multiple levels (only seen in pics I will share now) - in what is a fascinating complex three dimensional maze of impressive intricacy.
Here is a side-view pic of a channel UNIT. This is NOT a pic of the channel board. A channel unit measures about 3/16", or just under 5mm.
Here is the channel board, which sits at the very top of the channel unit.
I tried to remove the channel board from the channel unit but no dice, it's glued on pretty good and the board is fragile as you can imagine. So I broke a piece of the channel board off to examine more than just the top. Here we can see the bottom as well.
While these images are cool I learned nothing from them, other than we are dealing with some tiny stuff here.
...and then it happened. I took multiple frame grabs from some video I had shot and put them together to reveal what to me is a gateway to understanding the paths (or tunnels) that carry ink through and to our piezoelectric nozzles. This is by far the most revealing image yet. Those square holes you can see in the side-face of the channel board are actually ink passages. These are the paths, or tunnels, which lead ink to nozzle chambers.
Today I learned that "fatal error messages" report broken piezoelectric boards. Your head is truly dead. I also learned that "clogs" are most likely actually that - simply clogs. Tonight however I learned that "nozzle" clogs may not actually be limited to just nozzle clogs at all. Could be clogs are anywhere inside the intricate maze that makes up piezoelectric nozzle boards. Perhaps a clog in a specific tunnel, or a chamber, could end up starving the nozzle that chamber supplies. I don't know yet. ...But I will I promise you.