Ultrafast imaging method to measure surface tension and viscosity of inkjet-printed droplets in flight

Hendrik J.J. Staat*, Arjan van der Bos, Marc van den Berg, Hans Reinten, Herman Wijshoff, Michel Versluis, Detlef Lohse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
334 Downloads (Pure)


In modern drop-on-demand inkjet printing, the jetted droplets contain a mixture of solvents, pigments and surfactants. In order to accurately control the droplet formation process, its in-flight dynamics, and deposition characteristics upon impact at the underlying substrate, it is key to quantify the instantaneous liquid properties of the droplets during the entire inkjet-printing process. An analysis of shape oscillation dynamics is known to give direct information of the local liquid properties of millimeter-sized droplets and bubbles. Here, we apply this technique to measure the surface tension and viscosity of micrometer-sized inkjet droplets in flight by recording the droplet shape oscillations microseconds after pinch-off from the nozzle. From the damped oscillation amplitude and frequency we deduce the viscosity and surface tension, respectively. With this ultrafast imaging method, we study the role of surfactants in freshly made inkjet droplets in flight and compare to complementary techniques for dynamic surface tension measurements.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalExperiments in fluids
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Surfactant
  • Surface tension
  • Droplet formation
  • Dynamic surface tension
  • Equilibrium surface tension


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