A majority of the modern inkjet printers utilise drop on demand devices because of its precision in terms of time and easy control. The time-dependent fluid interface disruption renders the fluid dynamics process during droplet ejection complex.

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A majority of the modern inkjet printers utilise drop on demand devices because of its precision in terms of time and easy control. The time-dependent fluid interface disruption renders the fluid dynamics process during droplet ejection complex.

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Volume 10, Issue 03, March 2019, pp. 1326–1338, Article ID: IJMET_10_03_134

Available online at http://www.iaeme.com/ijmet/issues.asp?JType=IJMET&VType=10&IType=3

ISSN Print: 0976-6340 and ISSN Online: 0976-6359

VALIDATION STUDY OF THE

MATHEMATICAL MODEL OF DROPLET

FORMATION IN DROP ON DEMAND INKJET

PRINTER AND THE EFFECT OF

RHEOLOGICAL PROPERTIES OF

POLYMERINK FOR AUTOMOBILE LIGHTING

APPLICATION

Rajesh.P.K., and Aravindraj.S

Department of Automobile Engineering, PSG College of Technology,

Coimbatore, Tamilnadu. India.

ABSTRACT

A majority of the modern inkjet printers utilise drop on demand devices because of

its precision in terms of time and easy control. The time-dependent fluid interface

disruption renders the fluid dynamics process during droplet ejection complex. The

current work attempts to provide an idea of the drop ejection behaviour based on the

computation of energies required for droplet formation and splat formation. The

simulation results for various nozzle diameters with different polymer inks are examined

and it is validated with computational model. Further attempt is made to analyse the

effect of rheological properties like viscosity and surface tension in the droplet

formation.

Key words: Drop on demand; inkjet; droplet ejection; viscosity; surface tension.

Cite this Article: Rajesh.P.K. and Aravindraj.S, A Numerical Simulation and

Validation Study of the Mathematical Model of Droplet Formation in Drop on

Demand Inkjet Printer and the Effect of Rheological Properties of Polymerink for

Automobile Lighting Application, International Journal of Mechanical Engineering

and Technology 10(3), 2019, pp. 1326–1338.

http://www.iaeme.com/IJMET/issues.asp?JType=IJMET&VType=10&IType=3

1. INTRODUCTION

There is a tremendous efforts in the search for new means of further improving the quality and

reducing device cost of ink jet printing due to its rapid growth over manufacturing of

automotive electronics. Knowledge in fluid dynamic process of drop formation and drop

ejection takes precedence in research and development of new ink jet print heads. There are

Rajesh.P.K. and Aravindraj.S

two main types of ink jet devices, namely, continuous–jet type and drop-on demand type. [3 -

4]. In a continuous-jet device, there is a disintegration into a train of drops of the liquid,

emerging from the nozzle continually in the form of a jet. The amount of electric charge on

each individual drop and direction of motion of each drop from the continuous jet require

sophisticated electrical signals. A drop-on-demand device, on the other hand, uses electrical

signal to control the actuation at the instance of the ejection of an individual drop. Due to its

basic simplicity, the drop-on-demand type is common in the most modern ink jet printers. This

work focuses on the basic drop ejection process in drop-on-demand devices.

A drop-on-demand inkjet printer consists of a fluid chamber with a nozzle which is actuated

to eject the droplet. The actuation pushes a certain amount of the liquid out of the fluid chamber

through the nozzle. A drop is ejected when the liquid pushed out of the nozzle gains enough

forward momentum to overcome the surface tension restoring effect, [5]. The generation and

behaviour of liquid droplets [6] is effected by the Surface tension, inertia and viscosity. Surface

tension is a contractive tendency of the surface of a liquid that allows it to resist an external

force. Liquid atoms or molecules at a free surface have higher energy than those inside the

liquid body. Therefore, the shape of liquid with the lowest surface tension energy is sphere. For

the generation of a droplet, a liquid must necessarily have the tendency to form a shape with

lowest energy. The attraction of water molecules to each other is greater than the molecules in

the air, when the droplet is generated. As a result, an inward force at its surface makes water to

behave as if its surface was covered by a stretched elastic membrane. This is also the primary

cause of pinch‐off effect [7]. The surface tension of most of the liquids used in inkjet printing

have the order of tens of dyn/cm (or mN/m). The importance and influence of the above

parameters can characterized by three essential dimensionless numbers: 1. Reynolds number,

2.Weber number and 3.Ohnesorge number [8].

The ink inside the nozzle stays at equilibrium state, before the nozzle gets actuated. Ink

velocity and pressure are zero at initial stage (A). A high pressure is generated inside the nozzle

when the nozzle gets actuated, and the liquid start to flow out from the nozzle orifice (B).

Kinetic energy is transported from the actuator walls to outflow and it undergoes an attenuation

process, in order to overcome the resistance from surface tension (C). The droplet is then

connected with the liquid inside the nozzle by a skinny fluid filament (D). When the liquid

column momentum is large enough, the droplet will escape from the nozzle (E). Surface tension

acts as a force to pinch off the ligament. The meniscus retracts inside the nozzle (F).

In the inkjet printing applications, a single droplet is invariably desired but due to surface

tension additional satellite droplets which are usually smaller than intended primary droplet,

are formed and they cause several problems in printing [10]. When the unexpected satellite

droplets land on places other than where primary droplets do, they result in the degradation of

print quality, which further leads amination or failure. This is most clearly indicated by the

blurring of the trailing edge of a printed area [11].

A Numerical Simulation and Validation Study of the Mathematical Model of Droplet Formation in

Drop on Demand Inkjet Printer and the Effect of Rheological Properties of Polymerink for

Automobile Lighting Application

with appropriate boundary conditions describing fluid interface motions [12]. The conventional

methods cannot be used to obtain the desired mathematical solutions because of the prevalence

of the nonlinearities arising from inertia, capillarity, and coupling of the free surface kinematics

to the flow field. Hence, a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) package FLOW-3D V 10.0

[13] is utilised to simulate the complex fluid dynamic process during drop ejection and it is

validated with energy model.

Some other researches on droplet formation process in Drop-On-Demand inkjet printing

need to be analysed to overcome the problem. A quantum of research work has been carried

out in the mechanism of droplet formation, especially on Newtonian fluids, subsequent to the

invention of the first DOD inkjet printer in the 1940s. In the recent years, as more Non‐

Newtonian fluids have been widely used in manufacturing of automobile electronics and a bulk

of research on the droplet formation of Non- Newtonian fluids are carried effectively. Due to

the tens of micron length and the time scale of less than a hundred micro‐second, micro scale

droplet generation differs from macro scale droplet generation. Shin et al. [14] and Verkouteren

et al. [15] analysed the transient process of droplet generation using a charge coupled device

(CCD). Dong [16] and Carr [17] studied the dynamics of drop‐on‐demand (DOD) droplet

formation using an imaging system with an inter‐frame time of 1 μs. The experiment was

conducted on a viscosity range of (1.0 ‐ 5.0 cP) and surface tensions (35 – 73 mN/m). They

investigated the stages of droplet formation including the ejection and stretching of liquid and

the pinch‐off of liquid thread from the nozzle exit. Lopez et al. [18] studied the combination

effect of ink rheological behaviour focusing on the dynamics of filament break‐up and effect of

rheological properties on droplet formation. Cittadino et al. [19] developed a non‐linear model

to predict the velocity of the ejected droplet, based on a balance of forces, showing that the

ejection velocity is a strong function of the applied voltage. Feng and James [20] proposed an

comparatively simpler approach based on a series of numerical calculations on Flow3D. This

reference has given an idea about the droplet ejection behaviour for establishing nozzle head

design and shows that the volume of ejected droplet is very close to the volume of fluid pushed

through the nozzle by an actuation pulse.

ON ENERGY APPROACH

The energy required to form the droplet are equated in energy approach, to find the diameter of

the droplet. Based on the law of conservation of momentum, the energies before and after

impact are equated to find the splat diameter (i.e.) Diameter of the spread after fall on the

substrate [21].

These energies are required to eject the droplet is as follows:

Energy [E1] required to deflecting the membrane.

Frictional energy [E2] in the orifice.

Kinetic energy [E3] of droplet at the outlet of print head.

Surface tension energy [E4] of the droplet at outlet.

The total energy [E] required to eject the droplet from nozzle should be greater or equal to

the sum of these energies.

Rajesh.P.K. and Aravindraj.S

The volume of the droplet ejected from the nozzle is equal to the maximum volume displaced

by the deflecting membrane. The driving voltage on the piezoelectric device is converted into

required force [F] acting on the centre of the disc.

The maximum deflection in the disc is given by the formula [22]:

r2 F 2r F(D2 −4r2 )

x = 8πEI ln D + (1)

64πEI

The maximum deflection is obtained by substituting

Et3

r=0, ϵ = 0.3 and I= 12(1−∈2 ), we get

FD2

δ= (2)

18.40 E t3

By integrating the volume displaced in small layer we get the total volume of the ink

displaced (i.e.)

dv = 2πrdr. x

Total volume of the ink displaced is given by

D/2 Fr2 2r F (D2 −4r2 )

V = ∫0 2πr[8πEI ln D + ]dr (3)

64πEI

On integrating Equation 3, we get

F D4

V= (4)

1024EI

On simplifying the equation 4, we get

D2

V= δ (5)

3

The diameter of droplet is calculated by equating the volume of the sphere and the volume of

the ink displaced (i.e.)

D2 4

δ= π d3 (6)

3 24

By simplifying the equation 6, we get

3 2D2 δ

d= √ (7)

π

Equation 7 gives the diameter of the spread which depends on the ink chamber diameter

and the maximum defelection of the membrane.

The energy required for deflecting the membrane is equated to the product of force [F] and the

maximum deflection (i.e.)

E1 = Fxδ

18.40Et3

E1 = δ (8)

D2

A Numerical Simulation and Validation Study of the Mathematical Model of Droplet Formation in

Drop on Demand Inkjet Printer and the Effect of Rheological Properties of Polymerink for

Automobile Lighting Application

Friction loss (or skin friction) is the loss of pressure or “head” that occurs in nozzle flow due to

the effect of the fluid's viscosity near the surface of the orifice [23]. The fictional loss is given

by the Hagen-poissoulle equation (i.e.)

32μu0 l

hf = (9)

ρgd20

Frictional energy[E2] is given by

E2 = ρ x g x hf (10)

When the droplet moves with velocity ub, it possess kinetic energy [E3]

1 1

E3 = m u2b = ρ V u2b (11)

2 2

Substituting the value of V from Equation 5 to Equation 11, we get

D2 ρu2b

E3 = [ ]δ (12)

6

The surface tension of the liquid is given by

pd

σ= (13)

4

The surface tension energy is given by

4σD2

E4 = pV = [ ]δ (14)

3d

E=E1+ E2+ E3+ E4

18.40Et3 D2 ρu2b 4σD2

E= δ + ρ ∗ g ∗ hf + [ ]δ + [ ]δ (15)

D2 6 3d

Equation 15 refers to the total energy required to eject the droplet from the nozzle. The

energy must be greater or equal to the sum of all four energies in order to actuate the nozzle to

eject the droplet.

The pinch-off time coincides with the zero crossing of the ejection velocity (slender-jet

approximation) at the instance of the droplet ejection. In the slender-jet approximation with

neglected radial momentum, the stretching rate tends to become infinity at the nozzle when the

ejection velocity decreases through zero [24]. An instantaneous pinch off is indicated by an

infinite stretching rate. This pinch-off is, therefore, imposed through the boundary condition

and the approximations in the mathematical model. The imbalance in the capillary tension at

the end of the tail causes the formation of the tail droplet when the tail pinches off at the

meniscus. The capillary tension pulls the tail droplet toward the head droplet [25-26].

Simultaneously, the tail droplet mass increases as it sweeps up the ink in the tail, slowing down

the droplet. As a consequential combined effect, the velocity of the tail droplet relative to the

ink in the tail is independent of both viscosity and the size of the tail droplet. To calculate this

velocity, this problem is to be considered in a frame of reference in which the tail droplet is

stationary.

Rajesh.P.K. and Aravindraj.S

The forces on the control volume are advection +ρπR2 u2 , Laplace pressure +σπR, and the

direct effect of surface tension−σπR, should sum up to zero if the velocity is constant.

ρπR2 u2 + σπR − σ2πR = 0 (16)

From this equation, we get the tail droplet velocity as

σ

u = √ρR

The diameter of the droplet after spread is calculated by equating the energy attained by the

droplet before impact to the energy attained by the droplet after impact (law of conservation of

energy)

E3+E4+Potential energy = E7+E8

The droplet attains the surface tension energy and kinetic energy before the impact and due

to the pressure applied at the membrane, it possess potential energy [4].

D2 ρu2b 4σD2

[ ]δ + [ ]δ + ρ ∗ g ∗ V ∗ h (17)

6 3d

The surface tension energy attained when the droplet fall on the substrate is given by [27]

π

E7 = d12 σ (1 − cosθ) (18)

4

The energy needed to to spread the droplet in the substrate against the viscososity is given

by [27]

π 1

E8 = ρ vi2 d d12 (19)

3 √Re

Equating the equation 16,17 and 18, we get

D2 ρu2b 4σD2 π π 1

[ ]δ + [ ]δ + ρ ∗ g ∗ V ∗ h = d2max σ (1 − cosθ) + ρ vi2 d d12

6 3d 4 3 √Re

From equation 19, we infer that the diameter of the spread (d1) and the maximum diameter

of spread is related to the velocity of ejected droplet and the deflection of the membrane, which

is in turn, related to F.

Thermal and electrochemical stability and its high transparency [28-30] make PEDOT: PSS

and PEGDA a conductive material with certain versatility, such as the possibility of deposition

on different substrates. The inks were purchased from Sigma Aldrich, USA. The Properties of

the ink are listed in the Table 1.

A Numerical Simulation and Validation Study of the Mathematical Model of Droplet Formation in

Drop on Demand Inkjet Printer and the Effect of Rheological Properties of Polymerink for

Automobile Lighting Application

Density 1011 Kg/m3 1120 Kg/m3

Surface Tension 33 mN/m 35.09 mN/m

Viscosity 0.02 kg/ms 0.025 kg/ms

PRINTING FOR BIO INK

The fluid dynamic analysis of bio-ink droplet formation was done using the Computational

Fluid Dynamics (CFD) package FLOW-3D software, developed by Flow Sciences Inc., Los

Alamos, New Mexico and widely used for inkjet analysis [31]. Inkjet module in FLOW-3D

facilitates the characterization of the droplet formation of polymer-inks for inkjet printing.

Special features in FLOW-3D include,

Powerful physical modelling capabilities.

Easy meshing with multiple structured blocks.

Ability to refine a mesh, independent of the geometry and based on the required spatial

accuracy.

Ability to solve the typical problems of incompressible laminar viscous flow in bio-printing.

Use of special numerical methods to locate free surfaces and applying the proper dynamic

boundary conditions at those surfaces.

Inverse Ohnesorge number (Z) is a dimensionless number that gives the relationship between

the rheological properties- density, viscosity, and surface tension [32-33].

In inkjet printing, liquids with inverse Ohnesorge Number value in between 1 to 10 are

jettable.

√ργr

Z= (20)

μ

Where ρ is the density of the ink, γ the surface tension of the ink, 𝑟 the nozzle radius and μ

the viscosity of the ink.

The inverse ohnesorge number for different nozzle diameter for polymer inks is calculated

in Table [2, 3].

Table 2 Ohnesorge Number for PEDOT: PSS

20 0.913

25 1.02

30 1.29

35 1.208

40 1.118

Rajesh.P.K. and Aravindraj.S

20 0.7929

25 0.8865

30 0.9711

35 1.049

40 1.122

A model with a cylindrical fluid chamber, movable piston and a nozzle (Figure 3) is created in

FLOW 3D. The surface tension model was coupled with General Moving Objects (GMO)

model for the simulation of droplet formation. The Surface Tension model is activated and wall

adhesion is also activated simultaneously. In order to minimize the wet ability of bio-inks the

contact angle is specified as 90°, since most of the fluids exhibit adhesion behaviour at solid

surfaces. In the present study, the flow of polymer-inks is simulated using incompressible,

laminar and viscous flow mode. Since the Rheological properties of polymer inks have great

influence on droplet formation behaviour, size and tail length they are given as inputs, [34].

The simulation results for selected nozzle diameter for two different polymer inks based on

inverse ohnesorge number are discussed and the effect of rheological properties on droplet

formation is investigated.

Printability of bio-ink is determined by its ability to eject stable and repeatable droplets from

the nozzle [35]. Drop formation can be characterized by a dimensionless quantity known as

inverse ohnesorge number (Z). Generally, 10>Z>1 is the suitable range for stable drop

A Numerical Simulation and Validation Study of the Mathematical Model of Droplet Formation in

Drop on Demand Inkjet Printer and the Effect of Rheological Properties of Polymerink for

Automobile Lighting Application

generation. For Z<1, viscous dissipation prevents drop ejection. For Z>10, the ink is freely

ejected from the nozzle without significant viscous dissipation. The kinetic energy of the drop,

however, increases leading to rupture of filament and formation of satellites [36]. A typical

inkjet printer nozzle diameter ranges from 20 μm to 50 μm . For PEDOT: PSS and PEGDA,

the suitable nozzle diameter is selected based on the inverse ohnerorge number (Z) obtained

from the Table [5.1, 5.2] as shown in Table [4]

PEDOT:PSS PEGDA

Suitable Diameter 30 40

Ink jetting was simulated by applying velocity on the piston kept over the ink chamber and

caused by the piezoelectric actuation, causing ink ejection out of the nozzle. The operating

conditions of the piezoelectric actuator such as driving voltage, pulse width, and waveform

affect the droplet formation significantly[37-38].

t=0 𝛍𝐬 t=18𝛍𝐬 t=37𝛍𝐬 t=56𝛍𝐬 t=76𝛍𝐬 t=114𝛍𝐬 t=133𝛍𝐬 t=130𝛍𝐬 t=152𝛍𝐬 t=171𝛍𝐬

Figure 4 Droplet formation of PEDOT: PSS ink for the nozzle diameter 40μm

In figure 4, at frame 1, the valve is open and pressure pulse is active but the total energy is

not enough to form the droplet. At 15μs, in frame 2 the valve is closed, the negative pressure is

created on top of liquid inside reservoir which ejects the droplet from the nozzle [39]. At this

stage, the ink neck is sufficiently thin to be broken while the rest is sucked into reservoir. At

30μs, the detached volume of liquid outside the nozzle forms a spherical shape. At

30μs, the tail formation takes place and pinch off occurs at 115μs. The diameter of the PEDOT:

PSS ink observed from the simulated results is 1.255 cm.

t=0 𝛍𝐬 t=19𝛍𝐬 t=38𝛍𝐬 t=57𝛍𝐬 t=76𝛍𝐬 t=95𝛍𝐬 t=114𝛍𝐬 t=133𝛍𝐬 t=152𝛍𝐬 t=190𝛍𝐬

Rajesh.P.K. and Aravindraj.S

Figure 5 Droplet formation of PEGDA ink for the nozzle diameter 40μm

In figure 5, at frame 1, the valve is open and pressure pulse was active but total energy is

not enough to form the droplet. At 19μs, in frame 2 the valve is closed,a negative pressure is

created on top of the liquid inside the reservoir which ejects the droplet from the nozzle [40].

At this stage, the ink neck is sufficiently thin to be broken while the rest is sucked into the

reservoir. At 57μs, the detached volume of liquid outside the nozzle forms a spherical shape

and pinch off occurs at 152μs and when compared to PEDOT:PSS ink, the pinch off time in

PEGDA ink is more due to high viscosity.

From the simulated results, the diameter from droplet is observed to be 1.255 cm and in

numerical approach, by substituting the values [Table 5] in the equation 7, the diameter of the

droplet is observed to be 1.23 cm.

Table 5 Parameters for Force profile used in printing PEDOT: PSS [41]

Force Required to Deflect the Membrane 55 N

Rise Time (R) 30 μs

Fall Time 20 μs

Thickness of the Membrane 0.01 m

7. CONCLUSIONS

In the present work, using polymer inks and simulating different nozzle diameters with FLOW-

3D, provided considerable fundamental insights into the factors that control the performance of

a drop-on-demand inkjet printer. Energy equations were developed to simulate the droplet

formation in DOD inkjet printer. These were used to find the droplet diameter and diameter of

the spread as well as the pinch off velocity of the droplet. From the results given here, properties

of the flow that may be useful in the development and design of suitable print head in the

laboratory for experimental purpose, can be suggested.

From the simulated results, it is evident that the efficiency of droplet generation from drop

on demand print‐head depends on the viscosity, surface tension, nozzle size, density, and the

driving waveform like wave shape, frequency, and amplitude. The comparison of the results

obtained from the numerical approach and the simulated results shows that the numerical

approach values are slightly deviated from the simulated value.

A Numerical Simulation and Validation Study of the Mathematical Model of Droplet Formation in

Drop on Demand Inkjet Printer and the Effect of Rheological Properties of Polymerink for

Automobile Lighting Application

NOMENCLATURE

S No Symbols Description

1 E1 Energy required for deflecting diaphragm

2 E2 Frictional energy in orifice

3 E3 Kinetic energy of the droplet at the outlet of the print head

4 E4 Surface tension energy of the droplet at the outlet

5 E Total Energy to eject the droplet

6 r Local radius of the membrane from its centre

7 D Diameter of the chamber

8 E Young's modulus of the membrane

9 I Flexural rigidity of the membrane

10 ∈ Poisson's ratio of the membrane (assumed as 0.3)

11 t Thickness of the membrane

12 δ Maximum deflection of the membrane

13 d Diameter of the droplet

14 μ Apparent viscosity

15 uo Average velocity of the fluid inside orifice

16 do Diameter of the orifice

17 ρ Density of the ink

18 hf Frictional head

19 V Volume of the droplet

20 ub Velocity of the droplet at the beginning of its ejection

21 p Pressure inside the droplet

22 θ Contact angle

23 d1 Diameter of the spread

24 Re Reynold’s number

25 Vi Droplet impact velocity

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