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Nov 18, 2016

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Paper on inkjet simulation by Tomatika

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2013.05.08

Numerical Simulation Method of Droplet Formation for Continuous Inkjet

(Yoshifumi Ogamis paper in New Inkjet Technology (2007), Gijutsujoho-kyokai, pp.183-190

translated by Ikegawa)

1. Numerical simulation method

1.1 Basic equation

The movement is treated as two-phase (gas and liquid) flow so that the ink droplet (liquid)

may fly over air (gas). The governing equation of the flow is the Navier-Stokes equation for

two-phase flow (1) and (2), where v is the velocity, p is the pressure, is the density, and is the

viscosity.

i i vi i i vi vi i pi i i vi vi i i g Fi

a a v a a a v a v a a p a a a v a v a a a g Fa

(1)

(2)

The subscript i of expression (1) shows the ink droplet and the subscript a of expression (2)

shows air. i is a rate of the volume of ink that is occupied in a cell. (Therefore, a rate of the

volume of air a in a cell comparatively becomes a=1-i) (Fig. 2). The cell indicates each one when

the calculation area is divided into a minute area of limited pieces (Sec.1.2). The g is gravitational

acceleration and F is the outside force (centrifugal force, electromagnetic force, and surface tension,

etc.). This method considering the rate of volume to simultaneously handle gas and liquid is called

VOF (Volume of fluid) method. The cell filled with ink more than 50% is regarded as ink area.

These expressions are just the application of the law of the Newtons motion to the fluid.

That is, it is shown that the fluid is accelerated by pressure, viscous force, gravity, and other forces

sequentially shown from the right side of Eqs. 1 and 2. The left side shows the acceleration of the

fluid.

In addition, it is necessary to consider the continuousness of air and ink shown as equations

of continuity (3) and (4).

i i i i vi

t

a a a a v

t

(3)

(4)

This expression is a mass conservation rule in the cell where fluid goes in and out.

Formation and flight of the ink droplets are simulated by solving these Eqs (1)-(4).

In general, the calculation method might be different according to the laminar or turbulent

flow. Whether the flow is laminar or turbulent can be judged by the following non-dimensional

parameter, the Reynolds number.

Re

VL

inertia

whereis the density of ink, V is the representative velocity of ink, and L is the representative length

(for instance, inner diameter of the nozzle). The Reynolds number of ink flow Rei ( =iVL/i) is

221 for i=902 kg/m3, i=0.0045kg/ms, V=18.41m/s, L=6.010-5m. The flow of ink is laminar

because Re i is smaller than several thousands. Therefore, the turbulent flow model need not be used

for ink and droplets. The Reynolds number of air flow surrounding the inkjet Rea (=aVL/a) is 71

for a=1.184 kg/m3, a=1.84x10-5kg/ms, V=18.41m/s, L=6.010-5m. The air flow surrounding

the inkjet is also laminar.

1.2 Meshing and calculation

Figure 3 shows the nozzle used in simulation. Ink is filled in the nozzle, and pressure

fluctuation P and velocity fluctuation v are given at left side by the device such as piezoelectric

elements in the real inkjet printer. As a result, ink discharges out from a right end of the nozzle of

0.06mm in the inner diameter.

The calculation area as shown in Fig. 4 for the simulation is an area including not only the

above-mentioned nozzle but also the orbit of flying ink droplets. Equation (1) - (4) is applied to this

area, and the area is divided into the mesh of small limited number of cells because the memory is

limited, and the solution is obtained by the computer only on the lattice point. Figure 5 shows the

cross section of the calculation area and the closeup view of the mesh.

Special software is used for the generation of such a mesh. It is also possible to use the data

of the drawing by CAD. It leads to the accuracy of the solution and the descent of stability. A

commercial fluid-dynamic software FLOW-3D (FLOW SCIENCE, USA) was used to solve this

problem in this paper.

2. Simulation example

2.1 Boundary condition and properties

In actual inkjet printer, pressure (or, speed) fluctuation is added on the ink constant pressure

by using the piezoelectric element, etc. This fluctuation causes surface tension wave on the columnar

inkjet surface. The surface tension wave increases its amplitude, causes big curving on the ink

column and separates it into the ink droplets. The velocity at the inlet boundary is written as follows

(5)

v v0 1 C cos 2ft

where v0 is the constant speed, v0C is the amplitude of fluctuation, and f is the frequency of vibration

of the piezoelectric element.

The average speed v0 and the fluctuation amplitude v0C are shown as the number of

vibrations (Fig. 5). The value of the pressure and the amplitude at the inflow boundary can be

experimentally set from the standard of the piezoelectric element. Because it is difficult to get the

value experimentally, flow velocity is used here.

The density and the viscosity of air are assumed to be 1.21kg/m3 and 1.8110-5kg/ms

respectively, and the density, the viscosity and the surface tension of ink are assumed to be

9.02x102kg/m3, 4.50x10-3kg/ms, and 2.62x10-2N/m respectively.

2.2 Influence of amplitude

We focus the amplitude of velocity fluctuation at inlet among various factors that influences

the generation of the ink droplet. Figure 6 shows the appearance of the nozzle. The ink is filled in the

state of the first stage.

Time (s)

Fig. 7 Results: Droplets in time change (v0=5.1cm/s, C=0.005, f=64000s-1)

Figure 7 shows the results when assuming v0=5.1cm/s, C=0.005, and f=61000s-1. First of all,

columnar ink discharges from the nozzle. The ink column shows increasing big curving on the

surface and is separated into several ink droplets.

The amplitude at the velocity fluctuation at the inlet influences point (break point) where the

ink droplet is formed. Figure 8 shows the appearance of the break point neighborhood when

changing it from C= 0.005 to 0.1. Although the case of C=0.005 shows no droplets, the ink droplets

are formed in Z=7.59mm for C=0.01, and Z=5.93mm for C=0.03.

The amplitude grows larger, the break point length from the nozzle exit becomes smaller.

Moreover, in case C=0.01-0.05, the small droplets (satellite) are observed. In case C=0.05-0.07, the

distance between droplets are not uniform. The relation between the amplitude and break point

length is shown in Table 1 and Fig. 9. If the break point length becomes small, the inkjet device

can be miniaturized.

C

Fig. 9 Results: The relation of amplitude C and break point length Z

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