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    Micro-CT of Inkjet Cartridge

    Micro-CT of Inkjet Cartridge

    Using the Bruker SkyScan 1275


    Product Inspection: Using micro-CT to see inside assembled consumer products

    Inkjet printers are the best selling print technology on the market today. Originally attractive because of the low price, the technology is now used in many diverse applications, from home printing to textiles, ceramics, glass, and printed electronics. The most popular type of inkjet printing is the “drop on demand” mode, where ink is ejected from the printhead at specified points to produce an image. Of the “drop on demand” technologies, thermal printheads are more popular due to their simplicity, low cost, and the ease of use of inkjet cartridges. For this article, we will look more closely at a thermal, “drop on demand” inkjet cartridge.

     Micro-CT is a powerful tool for the inspection of consumer products since we can non-destructively image samples without disassembly. This unique process results in a three dimensional reconstruction of the inkjet cartridge and allows us to inspect the internal structure. The reconstructed data can be used to help ensure product quality or attempt to pinpoint the location of defects during failure analysis.


    Figure 1: Cross sections of an inkjet cartridge


    Micro-CT Scan of Inkjet Cartridge

    Using an advanced reconstruction algorithm, we converted the attenuation of X-rays captured from many different angles around the product into three-dimensional datasets so we could explore the full internal structure. This process allowed us to specifically highlight areas of interest and to locate and examine features, such as the detailed channels located just behind the manufacturer label (Figure 1). We cannot visualize the sponge located in the large open chamber that is used to store ink because the electron density of the foam sponge is much lower than the plastic and metal components in the rest of the cartridge. Due to this, there is insufficient interaction between the high energy X-ray beam and the foam, which results in the empty void seen within the large ink reservoir chamber.

















    In addition to examining two-dimensional views from different coordinate planes, we can also utilize CTVox to create colored, three-dimensional renderings representing the structure of the cartridge (Figure 2). These renderings allow us to view internal components and features from a three-dimensional perspective in addition to the two-dimensional views obtained from DataViewer.



    Micro-CT excels as a tool to nondestructively examine the internal structure of samples and continues to be successfully applied in the inspection of assembled products. We hope you found this Image of the Month interesting. If you have an Image of the Month sample that you would like us to scan, please contact us by calling Seth Hogg at 610-366-7103 or emailing


    Scan Specifications

    Sample Inkjet Cartridge
    Voltage (kV) 100
    Current (µA) 100
    Pixel Size (µm) 45
    Rotation Step 0.2
    Scan Time (HH:MM:SS) 01:25:24


    All scans completed on our high-speed SkyScan 1275 micro-CT system at the Micro Photonics Imaging Laboratory in Allentown, PA. Reconstructions were completed using NRecon and visualization of 2D and 3D results were completed using DataViewer and CTVox.


    Works Cited




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