Quantica and ImageXpert announce new strategic partnership to advance high-viscosity inkjet 3D printing

Berlin-based 3D printing technology developer Quantica has announced a strategic partnership with machine-vision-based measurement systems developer ImageXpert

The first step of this partnership will see Quantica’s NoveJet JetPack high-viscosity inkjet material optimization tool integrated with ImageXpert’s JetXpert dropwatcher system. This combination will provide researchers and material developers the ability to test, characterize, and validate new materials for material jetting.            

The new integrated system will start shipping to customers in the second quarter of 2024 and will be showcased by Quantica and ImageXpert at the 2024 LOPEC Printed Electronics Conference in Munich between March 5-7.    

According to Quantica, the new commercial partnership with ImageXpert will make its NovoJet high-viscosity printhead technology more accessible to the wider inkjet community. 

“We are pleased to announce our partnership with ImageXpert to drive the advancement of inkjet technology while also enabling the development of novel materials. This collaboration marks another step forward in the adoption of our NovoJet technology,” commented Ramon Borrell, Quantica CTO. 

“We believe that this partnership will unlock and redefine what is possible with inkjet technology,” added ImageXpert CEO Paul Best. “The integration of our analysis systems with Quantica’s innovative printheads will give users in novel applications the tools and confidence to explore inkjet technology for the first time.”  

Ultimately, it is hoped that the partnership will transform traditional analog manufacturing processes into the digital space, enabling advancement in material development and 3D inkjet printing capabilities. 

QUANTICA CTO Ramon Borrell, ImageXpert CEO Paul Best, QUANTICA Bus Dev Shahzad Khan and Marcus Mueller App. Engineer ImageXpert (left to right). Photo via Quantica.
QUANTICA CTO Ramon Borrell, ImageXpert CEO Paul Best, QUANTICA Bus Dev Shahzad Khan and Marcus Mueller App. Engineer ImageXpert (left to right). Photo via Quantica.

Quantica and ImageXpert’s new combined offering

The collaboration leverages Quantica’s NovoJet printhead technology. Launched at Formnext 2022, the multi-material inkjet technology is targeted towards research, feasibility studies, and small-scale custom production applications. 

While most inkjet printheads can 3D print materials with viscosities of around 20mPa•s, NovoJet is compatible with high-viscosity fluids of around 380mPa•s at jetting temperature. This equates to approximately 4000mPa•s at ambient temperatures. Therefore, Quantica’s NovoJet can be used with a wide range of materials, including ultra-high viscosity fluids and high particle loads.    

Last year, Inkjet technology developer Xaar signed an exclusive commercial partnership with Quantica to manufacture its Novojet printheads. The printheads are being produced at Xaar’s Huntingdon facility.   

Quantica’s Jetpack technology serves as a specialized tool for validating and optimizing the use of novel materials with NovoJet printheads.   

Quantica's Jetpack system. Image via Quantica.
Quantica’s Jetpack system. Image via Quantica.

The JetPack system has been specifically designed to integrate with ImageXpert’s Dropwatcher, allowing for the characterization of droplets and jetting validation for NovoJet materials. The JetXpert provides accurate measurements of drop volume, drop shape, and drop velocity. The system is guided by live analysis of these material characteristics using the JetXpert Dropwatcher. 

The Dropwatcher features high-quality imaging technology, boasting half micron resolution, with 8 million fps-equivalent exposure time. This means that drops, mist, and satellites can be observed, even when below 1pL in size. Using the JetXpert, repetitive tasks like sustainability testing, nozzle-to-nozzle consistency checks, open-time testing, and waveform optimization can be performed automatically. 

When integrated with the JetXpert dropwatcher, Quantiac claims that its JetPack system is a key tool for validating and optimizing the use of new materials with NovoJet printheads.           

Quantica is now working to expand its high-viscosity inkjet printing technology into new applications within the electronics industry. These include conductive tracks, insulation layers, solder resists, solder pastes, heat sinks, component connectors, encapsulations, and wafer coatings.  

ImageXpert’s JetXpert. Image via Quantica.

Developments in inkjet 3D printing  

Material development and characterization are key for companies active in high-viscosity 3D printing. Back in 2020, Xaar introduced a five-step service for the evaluation of materials for high-viscosity jetting. As part of this service, Xaar invested in a laboratory equipped with testing machinery, including an n.jet 3D printer from German manufacturer Notion Systems

The five-step service begins with an initial fluid evaluation, followed by printheads waveform configuration and fluid optimization. In step three, fluid samples are produced using custom test rigs. The samples are then upscaled to meet specific applications, with Xaar then providing support and application improvements, testing, and advice in the final stage. 

“Providing access to our inkjet development expertise through our 5-step service helps clients get to market quicker by reducing their own development timelines and costs,” stated Mike Seal, Xaar’s Business Development Manager, Advanced Manufacturing and 3D Printheads. 

Elsewhere, Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder recently developed a novel process for determining material properties in inkjet 3D printing. The findings of the research study outline how multi-material inkjet 3D printing can create specific material properties by combining different 3D printing resins. The researcher’s method allows repeatable 3D printed material properties to be achieved by mixing three “primary materials” – a soft elastomer, a rigid plastic, and liquid constituents.  

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Featured image shows Quantica CTO Ramon Borrell, ImageXpert CEO Paul Best, Quantica Bus Dev Shahzad Khan and Marcus Mueller App. Engineer ImageXpert (left to right). Photo via Quantica.