Continuous Inkjet Technology: What Is It and How Does It Work?

When you think about inkjet printing, you probably picture a typical home or office printer. But, there is a different type of printing technology you may not have heard of, which is known as continuous inkjet printing – or CIJ for short. This technology is used in many manufacturing industries for adding codes to products, such as food packaging in the supermarket, with “best by”, “used by”, barcodes and other product identifiers. The CIJ printers are normally attached to the end of a production line where it can print different product codes at super-fast speeds of up to hundreds of products per minute! These printers are extremely versatile and also provide the type of printing needed to comply with a variety of governmental and industry regulations.

How does continuous inkjet printing work?

Continuous inkjet printing technology starts with ink droplets that break away from the inkjet and then pass through an electronic field. These ink droplets are then given an electric charge.

These droplets then pass through what is called an electrostatic field, or an area of static electricity, created by two discharge plates on the printer itself. The charged droplets are then deposited onto the material to be printed.

Ink droplets created by continuous inkjet printers are very tiny, usually less than half the width of a human hair. The droplets are also created very quickly, as most continuous inkjet printers can deliver up to 120,000 drops of this ink per second.

It’s important to note, however, that ink for CIJ printers cannot be purchased at your local stationary supply store. You have to source ink from specialist ink manufacturers, such as Needham Inks ( which can supply you with continuous inkjet ink suitable for your printer model.

How this printing is unique

The electric charge in the continuous inkjet printing ink causes that ink to adhere firmly to a wide variety of surfaces and materials. Its color won’t smudge or smear even if used on photo paper, plastic, glass, and the like.

This durable ink also won’t fade or discolor, even when exposed to direct sunlight, high heat and humidity levels, and other inhospitable climates. It also won’t seep into soft and porous materials, such as cardboard or cloth.

Continuous inkjet printers also don’t produce spray or splatter when in operation. They can then be used on curved or oddly-shaped materials, easily printing around bottles or box corners without any disruption in the printing itself.

Why use continuous inkjet printing

The durability of the ink used for continuous inkjet printing makes this technology an excellent choice for smooth surfaces, as said. Continuous inkjet printing is also often used for packages that are repeatedly handled during production and shipment. The durable ink used in continuous inkjet printing won’t smudge or smear no matter how many hands it passes through! This durability also ensures the visibility of barcodes and other symbols required for packages that are repeatedly checked or scanned while in transit.

Continuous inkjet printing is also used for print on actual product packaging, so this printing won’t wear away before the product is sold to the end consumer. Soda bottles, single-serve food packages, and bulk food bags are often printed with continuous inkjet technology.

Continuous inkjet printing is one of the most durable and versatile methods of printing available today, with a full spectrum of inks available for use with these printers. The variety of inks used for continuous inkjet printing include inks that will withstand exposure to inclement weather such as during shipping and storage, food-grade and biodegradable products and inks that need to dry very quickly. Whatever your needs for printing and packaging, a continuous inkjet printer is your best option.

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