Secondary Tail Formation and Breakup in Piezoacoustic Inkjet Printing: Femtoliter Droplets Captured in Flight

Arjan Fraters, Roger Jeurissen, Marc van den Berg, Hans Reinten, Herman Wijshoff, Detlef Lohse, Michel Versluis, Tim Segers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
128 Downloads (Pure)


The role of meniscus motion and ink viscosity in the formation of a secondary tail and its breakup are studied experimentally during the picoliter-droplet formation process of a MEMS piezoacoustic inkjet print head using laser-induced 8-ns single-flash stroboscopic imaging with a temporal resolution of 100 ns. It is found that the formation of the secondary tail is driven by meniscus motion and that the secondary tail forms reproducibly between the primary tail and the meniscus in the final microseconds before pinchoff. We demonstrate that the stability of the secondary tail can be controlled through the motion of the meniscus after the primary tail has formed. A 4 times increase in stretching rate results in a 2.2 times increase in the secondary-tail length and a 3 times higher number of femtoliter satellites. Furthermore, as expected for Rayleigh breakup, a 43% increase in ink viscosity is found to increase the secondary-tail length by 50%. Finally, it is found that, during inkjet printing, the secondary tail cascades into tertiary and quaternary tails. We show that the formation of higher-order tails is irreproducible and therefore driven by noise. The formation of thicker secondary and thinner higher-order tails results in a bimodal satellite size distribution, where the secondary satellites with a volume greater than or equal to 4fL are located closer to the primary-tail droplet, while satellites with a volume less than 4fL are located closer to the nozzle. The main findings of the present work, that the stability of the secondary tail decreases with a decrease in stretching rate and ink viscosity, can be employed in the inkjet-printing community for waveform design to minimize internal contamination of inkjet printers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number024075
JournalPhysical review applied
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Secondary Tail Formation and Breakup in Piezoacoustic Inkjet Printing: Femtoliter Droplets Captured in Flight'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this