Piezoacoustic drop-on-demand (DOD) inkjet printing is widely applied in high-end digital printing due to its unprecedented precision and reproducibility. Micron-sized droplets of a wide range of chemical compositions can be deposited; however, the stability of piezoacoustic DOD inkjet printing can sometimes be compromised through the stochastic entrainment of bubbles within the ink channel. Here, bubble nucleation, translation, and growth are studied in an experimental silicon-based printhead with a glass nozzle plate using high-speed imaging that is triggered by changes in the ink-channel acoustics. It is found that impurities in the ink can trigger bubble nucleation upon their interaction with the oscillating meniscus. Cavitation inception on a dirt particle during the rarefaction pressure wave is identified as a second mechanism for bubble formation. The acoustic driving pressure within the ink channel, and its change upon bubble nucleation, are obtained from a fit of a Rayleigh-Plesset-type bubble-dynamics equation to the measured time-resolved radial dynamics of the bubble. The measured decrease in channel resonance frequency after bubble entrainment results in a 24% increased ink-jet length. The nucleated bubbles translate toward the ink-channel walls due to acoustic radiation forces and ink streaming. The convective ink flow is characterized using high-speed particle-tracking velocimetry. The vortical flow near the oscillating meniscus is shown to trap the impurities, thereby increasing the particle-to-meniscus interaction probability and, correspondingly, the bubble-entrainment probability.
Fraters, A., van den Berg, M., de Loore, Y., Reinten, H., Wijshoff, H., Lohse, D., ... Segers, T. (2019). Inkjet Nozzle Failure by Heterogeneous Nucleation: Bubble Entrainment, Cavitation, and Diffusive Growth. Physical review applied, 12(6), . https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevApplied.12.064019