(19)
(11)EP 2 722 182 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
03.07.2019 Bulletin 2019/27

(21)Application number: 13189592.2

(22)Date of filing:  21.10.2013
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
B41J 2/165(2006.01)

(54)

Printing unit of the improved type and inkjet printing device comprising said printing unit.

Verbesserte Druckeinheit und Tintenstrahldruckvorrichtung mit dieser Druckeinheit

Unité d'impression du type amélioré et dispositif d'impression à jet d'encre comprenant ladite unité d'impression


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 22.10.2012 IT VI20120278

(43)Date of publication of application:
23.04.2014 Bulletin 2014/17

(73)Proprietor: New System S.r.l.
34170 Gorizia (IT)

(72)Inventor:
  • Vodopivec, Mitja
    33040 FAEDIS (UD) (IT)

(74)Representative: Bonini, Ercole 
Studio Bonini Srl Corso Fogazzaro, 8
36100 Vicenza
36100 Vicenza (IT)


(56)References cited: : 
US-A- 5 574 485
US-A1- 2006 132 556
US-A1- 2004 046 828
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description


    [0001] The present invention concerns a printing unit of the improved type configured to better the quality and precision of the printing head cleaning operations. The present invention concerns also a method for carrying out the printing head cleaning operations through an improved printing unit.

    [0002] The present invention concerns also an inkjet printing device with an improved printing unit.

    [0003] Figure 1 shows a schematic illustration of a printing unit A of the known type.

    [0004] As is known, said type of printing units A is used on inkjet printing devices configured to make it possible to print the so-called legends (letters, numbers and/or geometrical shapes) on various materials such as printed circuit boards or PCBs.

    [0005] Said printing unit A comprises a printing head B provided with a plurality of nozzles D distributed on a nozzle plate C.

    [0006] Said nozzles D eject the ink in the form of drops, so as to print said legends on a printing plane on a PCB.

    [0007] Typically, the printing head A can move above said printing plane along two directions x and y that are orthogonal to each other, according to a predefined printing plan.

    [0008] It is also known that in order to guarantee high quality and high resolution printing results over time it is necessary to keep the nozzle plate C of the printing head B constantly clean.

    [0009] In fact, in order to obtain a high printing quality over time it is absolutely important to maintain a constant surface tension on the nozzle plate C for each ink drop ejected by the nozzles D.

    [0010] Furthermore, in the case where the ink, usually of the UV sensitive type, that has accumulated on the nozzle plate C is not removed, it tends to polymerize, thus clogging the orifices of the plurality of nozzles D and thus preventing the ink drops from coming out.

    [0011] This phenomena may lead to a need to replace the printing head B prematurely.

    [0012] In order to cope with this matter, as shown in Figure 1, printing units A are known that comprise a cleaning station E usually arranged at the side of the printing plane and provided with a cleaning surface F on which there is a cleaning element G configured to remove the excess ink from the nozzle plate C of the printing head B. Such kind of solution is also described in the document US 2004/046828.

    [0013] In the printing unit shown in Figure 1, said cleaning element G is a suction element G configured to generate a suction of the air from outside of the cleaning surface.

    [0014] In particular, said suction element G comprises a nozzle H having its orifice arranged on the plane defined by the cleaning surface F and connected, on the opposite side, to a Venturi vacuum pump I so as to draw towards the inside the air present above said cleaning surface F, as shown by the arrows N in Figure 1.

    [0015] In order to clean the nozzle plate C, the printing head B, at regular time intervals between a printing operation and the following one, is arranged above the cleaning station E, in such a way that the nozzle plate C of the same printing head B and the cleaning surface F of the station E face each other at a predefined distance L.

    [0016] Successively, the cleaning operation includes the translation of the cleaning station E with respect to the printing head B from a first cleaning position, in which the suction element G is superimposed to a first end of the nozzle plate C, to a second position, in which the same suction element G is superimposed to a second end of the nozzle plate C, opposite said first end. Figure 1 shows the axis α of translation of the cleaning station E with respect to the printing head B.

    [0017] Successively the cleaning operation includes the translation of the cleaning station E in the opposite direction, that is, from the second position to said first position.

    [0018] During said motion in both directions, the suction element G progressively draws the air under the individual nozzles D distributed along the nozzle plate C, removing the excess ink from them.

    [0019] However, said printing unit A of the known art poses a series of drawbacks.

    [0020] First of all, it is important to underline that during the cleaning operation the distance L between the nozzle plate C and the cleaning surface F plays a fundamental role for the cleaning quality of the nozzles D and, consequently, for the quality of the printing operation carried out successively.

    [0021] It is known, in fact, that to obtain high quality cleaning results the ideal distance

    [0022] L between said two surfaces is less than 300 micrometres, and it is preferably 250 micrometres.

    [0023] A first drawback posed by said printing units A of the known art lies in that said distance L is set and accurately controlled by specialized staff only on installation and setting of the printing device, using suitable setting instruments.

    [0024] After said setting step, the printing unit A of the known art does not make it possible to determine the value of said distance L precisely and to identify any variation in the same distance.

    [0025] As a matter of fact, during the operation of the printing device said distance L may vary due to several factors.

    [0026] For example, said distance L may vary because of climatic changes in the environment surrounding the printing device, in particular because of a decrease or increase in the ambient temperature and thus in the temperature of the components of the printing unit A.

    [0027] Furthermore, distance L may accidentally vary as a result of ordinary maintenance operations on the printing unit A.

    [0028] The variation of said distance L may also be caused by the vibrations generated by the same printing device or by devices arranged near the printing device.

    [0029] To disadvantage, said variations may cause two important drawbacks.

    [0030] If said distance L were too high, the nozzles D would not be cleaned properly, as the suction of the air generated by the suction element G would not be sufficient to draw all the ink accumulated on the nozzle plate C. Consequently, said non-optimal cleaning leads to worse printing quality and even to the polymerization of the excess ink, which in turn leads to the need to replace the printing head B.

    [0031] On the other hand, if said distance L were too small, during said translation, the printing head B and the cleaning station E might come in contact with each other and even damage each other.

    [0032] A further parameter that contributes to determining the quality of the cleaning operation of the nozzle plate C is the speed at which the cleaning station E is translated with respect to the printing head B.

    [0033] In fact, the choice of the speed value consequently determines the duration of the lapse of time during which the suction element G carries out the suction operation under each individual nozzle D belonging to the plurality of nozzles D of the nozzle plate C.

    [0034] In particular, it is well known that the optimal speed value to obtain high quality cleaning results and sufficiently short cleaning times is approximately 30 mm/s. To disadvantage, the printing units A of the known type do not allow setting a specific translation speed keeping it constant over time.

    [0035] Another drawback of the printing units A of the known art lies in that it is extremely difficult to find a compromise between the cleaning quality and the overall system's throughput, in particular between the cleaning quality and the time necessary to perform the cleaning operation.

    [0036] The present invention aims to overcome the drawbacks listed above.

    [0037] In particular, it is the object of the invention to provide a printing unit that is capable of guaranteeing a higher cleaning quality of the nozzle plate over time than the printing units of the known art.

    [0038] Consequently, it is the object of the invention to provide a printing unit that makes it possible to guarantee a high printing quality over time.

    [0039] For this purpose, it is the object of the invention to provide a printing unit that is capable of controlling the optimal conditions for cleaning the nozzle plate and of keeping them constant over time.

    [0040] It is a further object of the invention to provide a printing unit that is able to avoid accidental impacts between the printing head and the cleaning station during the execution of the cleaning operation.

    [0041] It is also the object of the invention to provide a printing unit that makes the optimized compromise between the cleaning quality and the overall system's throughput, in particular between the cleaning quality and the time necessary to perform the cleaning operation.

    [0042] The objects described above are achieved by a printing unit having the characteristics illustrated in claim 1. Said objects are also achieved by a method for carrying out the printing head cleaning operation through said printing unit, according to claim 14. Furthermore, said objects are achieved by a printing device comprising said printing unit, according to claim 16. To advantage, knowing constantly and precisely, during the cleaning operations, the value of the distance between the printing head and the cleaning station makes it possible to considerably reduce the risk of damaging the printing unit due to accidental impacts and thus makes it possible to reduce maintenance on and replacement of the components of the printing unit. Consequently, reducing the interventions of specialized staff allows maintenance costs to be reduced.

    [0043] Still advantageously, in certain circumstances measuring constantly and precisely the value of said distance allows the printing unit to perform an automatic setting of the position of the printing head and/or the cleaning station, so as to restore the value of said distance and keep it constant within a pre-established value interval.

    [0044] Finally, advantageously and surprisingly, the possibility to vary and adjust in a precise manner the translation speed of the cleaning station with respect to the printing head has made it possible to find out that if said translation is slowed down to a value of approximately 3-5 mm/s, the suction operation performed by the suction element makes it possible to remove also the so-called "mist" from the nozzle plate in an optimal and automatic way, "mist" meaning the clouds of micro drops that are generated when an ink drop comes out of the nozzles of the nozzle plate.

    [0045] Said micro drops, in fact, have a radius that is more than ten times smaller than the radius of the printing ink drop and a weight that is even one thousand times lower than the weight of a printing ink drop.

    [0046] Due to said physical characteristics and to the effects of UV light, to disadvantage, said micro drops tend to deposit and polymerize on the nozzle plate C.

    [0047] At present, to avoid said polymerization, even if the printing units A of the known art have a cleaning station E, it is however necessary to stop the printing device every 4-8 hours to remove said "mist" from the nozzle plate C manually.

    [0048] If this special manual cleaning operation were not carried out, it would be necessary to replace the printing head B.

    [0049] It is clear, therefore, that thanks to the possibility to carry out said so-called "slow" cleaning, it is advantageously possible to avoid the drawbacks due to the accumulation of mist on the nozzle plate.

    [0050] The objects and advantages described above will be highlighted in greater detail in the description of preferred embodiments of the invention that is provided as an indicative, non-limiting example, with reference to the enclosed drawings, wherein:
    • Figure 1 shows a side view of a printing unit according to the known art;
    • Figure 2 shows a side view of the printing unit according to an embodiment of the invention;
    • Figures 3 and 4 show the nozzle plate and the cleaning surface according to a first embodiment of the printing unit of the invention;
    • Figures 5 and 6 show the nozzle plate and the cleaning surface according to a second embodiment of the printing unit of the invention;
    • Figures 7 and 8 show the printing unit according to an embodiment of the invention respectively in the first and in the second position.


    [0051] The printing unit of the invention is illustrated as a whole in Figure 2, where it is denoted by 1.

    [0052] As shown in Figure 2, the printing unit 1 comprises a movable printing head 2 provided with a nozzle plate 21 which has a plurality of nozzles 3, from which the printing ink is ejected in the form of drops.

    [0053] According to a preferred embodiment of the invention, said nozzles 3 are arranged in a single row parallel to the longitudinal axis β of the nozzle plate 21, as shown in Figure 3.

    [0054] In a second alternative embodiment of the printing unit 1 of the invention, said plurality of nozzles 3 is arranged in two rows parallel to each other and parallel to said longitudinal axis β of the nozzle plate 21, as shown in Figure 5.

    [0055] It cannot be excluded, however, that in alternative embodiments of the invention nozzles 3 are arranged along the nozzle plate 21 in different ways with respect to the two embodiments described above.

    [0056] As mentioned above, printing head 2 can move along two directions x and y orthogonal to each other above a printing plane (not shown in Figures 2-8), where, for example, a printed circuit board is arranged.

    [0057] The printing unit 1 of the invention also comprises, as shown in Figure 2, a cleaning station 4 provided with a cleaning surface 41. The cleaning station 4 is usually positioned in the printing device beside the printing plane.

    [0058] As shown in Figure 4, according to the preferred embodiment of the printing unit of the invention, the cleaning surface 41 comprises a single suction element 5 configured to generate a suction of the air from the outside of the cleaning surface.

    [0059] According to a second alternative embodiment of the printing unit 1 of the invention, as shown in Figure 6, said cleaning surface 41 comprises two suction elements 5 arranged side by side along a direction that is orthogonal to the longitudinal axis γ of the cleaning surface 41, so that, during the cleaning operation, each one of said suction elements 5 is configured to draw the excess ink from one of the two rows of nozzles 3 of the second embodiment shown in Figure 5.

    [0060] Said cleaning operation of the nozzle plate 21 is carried out when the printing head 2 is arranged at least partially overlapping the cleaning station 4, so that the nozzle plate 21 and the cleaning surface 41 face each other at least partially at a predefined distance 6.

    [0061] Preferably but not necessarily, distance 6 is comprised between 150 and 300 micrometres.

    [0062] According to the preferred embodiment of the invention, distance 6 is 250 micrometres.

    [0063] The printing head 2 and the cleaning station 4, preferably but not necessarily, are completely superimposed to each other, therefore the nozzle plate 21 and the cleaning surface 41 face each other completely, as shown in Figure 7.

    [0064] When the printing head 2 is superimposed to the cleaning station 4, the latter, through movement actuator means 7 belonging to the printing unit 1 of the invention, is translated with respect to the printing head 2 from a first position, in which the suction element 5 is superimposed to a first end 21b of the nozzle plate 21, to a second position, in which the suction element 5 is superimposed to a second end 21a of the same nozzle plate 21, opposite the first end 21b, as respectively shown in Figures 7 and 8.

    [0065] The cleaning operation includes also the successive translation of the cleaning station 4 in the opposite direction, that is, from the second position to the first position.

    [0066] During these translation movements, the suction element 5 progressively draws the excess ink present on the nozzle plate 21 in the proximity of each one of the nozzles 3.

    [0067] According to the invention, the nozzle plate 21 and the cleaning surface 41 are provided with proximity sensor means 8 that are capable of measuring the value of the distance 6 during the cleaning operation.

    [0068] In particular, said proximity sensor means 8 are configured to measure said distance 6 at the level of the first position and at the level of said second position as defined above, as shown in the details of Figures 7 and 8.

    [0069] In this way it is possible to understand if there has been no variation in the distance 6 in both positions compared to the values set at the beginning, if there has been a variation in the distance 6 in one of the two positions or if there has been a variation in the value of the distance 6 in both said positions. From an operational point of view, the printing unit 1 of the invention makes it possible to determine the mutual position of the printing head 2 and of the cleaning station 4 and in the case where there is a variation in the distance 6 compared to the value set at the beginning, the printing unit 1 of the invention intervenes and signals the anomaly to the operator through suitable alarm systems or by modifying automatically, with a suitable feedback control, the position of the printing head 2 and/or of the cleaning station 4, so as to restore said distance 6 to the value set during the setting step.

    [0070] Said two types of intervention depend on the type and extent of the variation in the distance 6 and thus on the causes that determined said variation.

    [0071] According to a preferred embodiment of the invention shown in Figures 2, 3 and 4, said proximity sensor means 8 comprise two emitter elements 81 arranged on the two opposite ends 41a and 41b of the cleaning surface 41 and comprise a measuring element 82 arranged on the end 21a of the nozzle plate 21, in such a way as to measure the value of said distance 6 at the level of the first and of the second position as defined above.

    [0072] In particular, according to said preferred embodiment of the invention, said emitter elements 81 are two permanent magnets 91 and 92, while the measuring element 82 is a Hall effect proximity sensor 95, as shown in Figures 2, 3 and 4.

    [0073] In an alternative embodiment, the two emitter elements 81, and in particular the two permanent magnets 91 and 92, may be arranged on the two opposite ends 21a and 21b of the nozzle plate 21, while the measuring element 82, in particular the Hall effect proximity sensor 95, may be arranged on the end 41b of the cleaning surface 41, provided that it is possible to measure the value of the distance 6 in both said positions.

    [0074] Regarding the second embodiment shown in Figures 5 and 6, the proximity sensor means 8 comprise four emitter elements 81, in particular four permanent magnets 91, 92, 93 and 94, arranged on the four corners of the cleaning surface 41 and furthermore comprise two measuring elements 82, in particular two Hall effect sensors 95 and 96 arranged on the two corners of the end 21a of the nozzle plate 21.

    [0075] In this way it is possible to measure the values of said distance 6 in four points in space, allowing the printing unit 1 of the invention to measure also the side inclination of the nozzle plate 21 with respect to the cleaning surface 41 and vice versa.

    [0076] It cannot be excluded, however, that in alternative embodiments said proximity sensor means 8 of the printing unit 1 of the invention could comprise, instead of permanent magnets 91, 92, 93 and 94 and of Hall effect sensors 95 and 96, a proximity sensor of the inductive type, an ultrasonic proximity sensor or a proximity sensor of any other type.

    [0077] It should be mentioned that the use of proximity sensors means 8 such as Hall effect sensors or such as proximity sensors of the inductive type advantageously makes it possible to obtain an extremely precise measurement of the distance 6 between the printing head 2 and the cleaning station 4, during both the setting step and the measuring step of the cleaning operation.

    [0078] It cannot be excluded, also, that alternative embodiments of the invention may differ with respect to those described above for the fact that said proximity sensor means 8 are configured to simultaneously measure said distance 6 in at least two different points of the nozzle plate 21 mutually spaced in the direction of the longitudinal axis β of said nozzle plate 21.

    [0079] According to a first embodiment of the invention, the movement actuator means 7 are operatively associated with the cleaning station 4 in order to translate it with respect to the printing head 2.

    [0080] Alternatively, said movement actuator means 7 may be operatively associated with the printing head 2 in such a way as to translate the latter with respect to the cleaning station 4.

    [0081] In both of the cases described above, a further improvement of the precision of the measurement of the distance 6 is achieved by using, as movement actuator means 7, NC electric actuator means, in particular a NC electric motor 71.

    [0082] In particular, a NC electric motor 71 makes it possible to determine precisely the mutual positions assumed by the printing head 2 and the cleaning station 4 during both the setting and the measurement steps.

    [0083] It is thus possible to obtain high repeatability of the conditions for the measurement of the distance 6, thus making it possible to precisely determine any variation between the values of said distance 6 set in the setting step and those measured during the cleaning operation.

    [0084] Furthermore, as already explained above, the inventors have found out, following test performed that the use of a NC electric motor 71 has advantageously made it possible to reduce the translation speed of the cleaning station 41 considerably, while at the same time maintaining it uniform. As a result of the above, the inventors found out that at a reduced translation speed, in particular between 3 and 5 mm/s, the suction ensured by the suction element 5 is capable of removing also said "mist" from the nozzle plate 21 in an optimal manner.

    [0085] It cannot be excluded, however, that in alternative embodiments of the printing unit 1 of the invention, the movement actuator means 7 may be of a type different from a NC electric motor 71, provided that they can determine precisely the mutual positions assumed by the printing head 2 and the cleaning station 4.

    [0086] The present invention concerns also the method for carrying out the printing head cleaning operation through the printing unit 1 of the invention.

    [0087] In particular, the method comprises the step of arranging the printing head 2 at least partially overlapping the cleaning station 4, so that the nozzle plate 21 and the cleaning surface 41 face each other at least partially at a predefined distance 6.

    [0088] Subsequently, the method envisages to perform the relative translation of the printing head 2 and the cleaning station 4 from a first position, in which the suction element 5 is superimposed to a first end 21b of the nozzle plate 21, to a second position, in which the suction element 5 is superimposed to a second end 21a, opposite said first end 21b, of the nozzle plate 21 and vice versa, so as to carry out said cleaning operation.

    [0089] According to the invention, the method comprises the step of measuring said distance 6 at the level of the first position and at the level of the second position during said cleaning operation.

    [0090] The present invention concerns also the inkjet printing device, not illustrated in the figures, comprising the printing unit 1 of the invention, for printing legends on the surfaces of printed circuit boards.

    [0091] It is therefore clear, according to the above description, that the printing unit, the method and the printing device of the invention achieve all the set objects. In particular, the invention achieves the object to provide a printing unit that is capable of guaranteeing a higher cleaning quality of the nozzle plate over time than the printing units of the known art.

    [0092] Consequently, the invention also achieves the object to provide a printing unit that makes it possible to guarantee a high printing quality over time.

    [0093] The invention furthermore achieves the object to provide a printing unit that is capable of controlling the distance between the printing head and the cleaning station during the cleaning of the nozzle plate and of keeping it constant over time.

    [0094] The invention also achieves the object to provide a printing unit that is capable of performing the relative translation between the printing head and the cleaning station at a specific speed that is constant over time.

    [0095] The invention also achieves the object to provide a printing unit that is capable to avoid accidental impacts between the printing head and the cleaning station during the execution of the cleaning operation.

    [0096] Finally, the invention also achieves the object to provide a printing unit that makes the optimized compromise between the cleaning quality and the overall system's throughput, in particular between the cleaning quality and the time necessary to perform the cleaning operation.


    Claims

    1. Printing unit (1), of the type comprising:

    - a movable printing head (2) provided with a nozzle plate (21) on which there is a plurality of nozzles (3) configured to eject liquid ink;

    - a cleaning station (4) comprising a cleaning surface (41) provided with at least one suction element (5) configured to generate a suction of the air, said cleaning station (4) being configured to clean said plurality of nozzles (3) of said printing head (2) when said printing head (2) is arranged so as to overlap at least partially said cleaning station (4), so that said nozzle plate (21) and said cleaning surface (41) face each other at least partially at a predefined distance (6);

    - movement actuator means (7) configured to perform the relative translation of said printing head (2) and said cleaning station (4) from a first position, in which said suction element (5) is superimposed to a first end (21b) of said nozzle plate (21), to a second position, in which said suction element (5) is superimposed to a second end (21a), opposite said first end (21b), of said nozzle plate (21) and vice versa, so as to carry out said cleaning operation,

    characterized in that said nozzle plate (21) and said cleaning surface (41) are provided with proximity sensor means (8) configured to measure said distance (6) in said first position and in said second position during said cleaning operation.
     
    2. Printing unit (1) according to claim 1, characterized in that it is configured to intervene and signal an anomaly to an operator through suitable alarm systems in the case where there is a variation in the distance (6) in said first position and/or in said second position compared to the value set during the setting step.
     
    3. Printing unit (1) according to claim 1, characterized in that it is configured to modify automatically, with a feedback control, the position of said printing head (2) and/or of said cleaning station (4) so as to restore said distance (6) to the value set during the setting step in the case where there is a variation in the distance (6) in said first position and/or in said second position compared to said value set during the setting step.
     
    4. Printing unit (1) according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that said proximity sensor means (8) comprise at least two emitter elements (81) arranged on said first and said second end (21b, 21a) of said nozzle plate (21) and at least one measuring element (82) arranged on one end (41b) of said cleaning surface (41).
     
    5. Printing unit (1) according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that said proximity sensor means (8) comprise at least two emitter elements (81) arranged on two opposite ends (41a, 41b) of said cleaning surface (41) and at least one measuring element (82) arranged on one end (21a) of said nozzle plate (21).
     
    6. Printing unit (1) according to any of claims 4 or 5, characterized in that said at least two emitter elements (81) are two permanent magnets (91, 92) and said at least one measuring element (82) is a Hall effect proximity sensor (95).
     
    7. Printing unit (1) according to any of the claims from 4 to 6, characterized in that said at least two emitter elements (81) comprise four permanent magnets (91, 92, 93, 94) arranged on the four corners of one of said two surfaces to be chosen between said nozzle plate (21) and said cleaning surface (41) and said at least one measuring element (82) comprises two Hall effect proximity sensors (95, 96) arranged on the two corners of one end (21a, 41b) of one of said two surfaces to be chosen between said cleaning surface (41) and said nozzle plate (21).
     
    8. Printing unit (1) according to any of the claims from 1 to 5, characterized in that said proximity sensor means (8) comprise a proximity sensor of the inductive type.
     
    9. Printing unit (1) according to any of the claims from 1 to 5, characterized in that said proximity sensor means (8) comprise an ultrasonic proximity sensor.
     
    10. Printing unit (1) according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that said proximity sensor means (8) are configured to simultaneously measure said distance (6) in at least two different points of said nozzle plate (21) mutually spaced in the direction of the longitudinal axis (β) of said nozzle plate (21).
     
    11. Printing unit (1) according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that said movement actuator means (7) are operatively associated with said cleaning station (4) to perform the translation of said cleaning station (4) with respect to said printing head (2) from said first position to said second position.
     
    12. Printing unit (1) according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that said movement actuator means (7) are NC electric movement actuator means.
     
    13. Printing unit (1) according to claim 12, characterized in that said NC electric movement actuator means (7) comprise a NC electric motor (71).
     
    14. Method for carrying out the printing head cleaning operation through the printing unit according to any of the claims from 1 to 13, of the type comprising the following steps:

    - arranging said printing head (2) at least partially overlapping said cleaning station (4), so that said nozzle plate (21) and said cleaning surface (41) face each other at least partially at a predefined distance (6);

    - performing the relative translation of said printing head (2) and said cleaning station (4) from a first position, in which said suction element (5) is superimposed to a first end (21b) of said nozzle plate (21), to a second position, in which said suction element (5) is superimposed to a second end (21a), opposite said first end (21b), of said nozzle plate (21) and vice versa, so as to carry out said cleaning operation,

    characterized in that it includes the step of measuring said distance (6) in said first position and in said second position during said cleaning operation.
     
    15. Method according to claim 14, characterized in that said relative translation is performed between 3 and 5 mm/s.
     
    16. Printing device of the liquid ink jet type for printing on the surfaces of electronic circuit boards, characterized in that it comprises a printing unit according to any of the claims from 1 to 13.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Druckeinheit (1) vom Typ, der Folgendes umfasst:

    - einen mobilen Druckkopf (2) mit einer Düsenplatte (21), auf der sich eine Vielzahl von Düsen (3) befindet, die darauf ausgelegt sind, flüssige Tinte abzugeben;

    - eine Reinigungsstation (4), eine Reinigungsfläche (41) mit wenigstens einem Saugelement (5) umfassend, das darauf ausgelegt ist, eine Luftansaugung zu bewirken, wobei die besagte Reinigungsstation (4) so konfiguriert ist, die Vielzahl von Düsen (3) des besagten Druckkopfes (2) zu reinigen, wenn der besagte Druckkopf (2) so angeordnet ist, dass er die besagte Reinigungsstation (4) wenigstens teilweise überlappt, so dass die besagte Düsenplatte (21) und die besagte Reinigungsfläche (41) einander wenigstens teilweise in einem vorbestimmten Abstand (6) gegenüberliegen;

    - Bewegungsantriebsmittel (7), die so konfiguriert sind, dass sie die relative Verfahrung des besagten Druckkopfes (2) und der besagten Reinigungsstation (4) durchführen aus einer ersten Position, in der das besagte Saugelement (5) über einem ersten Ende (21b) der besagten Düsenplatte (21) positioniert ist, in eine zweite Position, in der das besagte Saugelement (5) über einem zweiten Ende (21a) positioniert ist, das dem besagten ersten Ende (21b) der besagten Düsenplatte (21) entgegengesetzt ist und umgekehrt, um den besagten Reinigungsvorgang auszuführen,

    dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die besagte Düsenplatte (21) und die besagte Reinigungsfläche (41) mit Näherungssensor-Mitteln (8) versehen sind, welche so konfiguriert sind, dass sie während des besagten Reinigungsvorgangs den besagte Abstand (6) in der besagten ersten Position und in der besagten zweiten Position messen.
     
    2. Druckeinheit (1) nach Patentanspruch 1, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass sie darauf konfiguriert ist, anzusprechen und mittels geeigneter Alarmsysteme einem Bediener eine Anomalie zu melden, wenn der Abstand (6) in der besagten ersten Position und/oder in der besagten zweiten Position im Vergleich zu dem während der Einstellung eingegebenen Wert variiert.
     
    3. Druckeinheit (1) nach Patentanspruch 1, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass sie darauf konfiguriert ist, automatisch mit einer Feedback-Kontrolle die Position des besagten Druckkopfes (2) und/oder der besagten Reinigungsstation (4) zu ändern, um den während der Einstellung eingegebenen Wert für den besagten Abstand (6) wiederherzustellen, wenn der Abstand (6) in der besagten ersten Position und/oder in der besagten zweiten Position im Vergleich zu dem besagten, während der Einstellung eingegebenen Wert variiert.
     
    4. Druckeinheit (1) nach einem jeden der vorstehenden Patentansprüche, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die besagten Näherungssensor-Mittel (8) wenigstens zwei Sendeelemente (81) umfassen, die an dem besagten ersten und an dem besagten zweiten Ende (21b, 21a) der besagten Düsenplatte (21) angeordnet sind, sowie wenigstens ein Messelement (82), das an einem Ende (41b) der besagten Reinigungsfläche (41) angeordnet ist.
     
    5. Druckeinheit (1) gemäß eines jeden der vorstehenden Patentansprüche, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die besagten Näherungssensor-Mittel (8) wenigstens zwei Sendeelemente (81) umfassen, die an zwei einander gegenüberliegenden Enden (41a, 41b) der besagten Reinigungsfläche (41) angeordnet sind, sowie wenigstens ein Messelement (82), das an einem Ende (21a) der besagten Düsenplatte (21) angeordnet ist.
     
    6. Druckeinheit (1) nach einem jeden der Patentansprüche 4 oder 5, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die besagten wenigstens zwei Sendeelemente (81) zwei Dauermagneten (91, 92) sind und dadurch, dass das besagte wenigstens eine Messelement (82) ein Halleffekt-Näherungssensor (95) ist.
     
    7. Druckeinheit (1) nach einem jeden der Patentansprüche von 4 bis 6, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die besagten wenigstens zwei Sendeelemente (81) vier Dauermagneten (91, 92, 93, 94) umfassen, die an den vier Ecken einer der besagten zwei Oberflächen angeordnet sind, das heißt wahlweise der besagten Düsenplatte (21) oder der besagten Reinigungsfläche (41), und dadurch, dass das besagte wenigstens eine Messelement (82) zwei Halleffekt-Näherungssensoren (95, 96) umfasst, die an den zwei Ecken eines Endes (21a, 41b) einer der besagten zwei Oberflächen angeordnet sind, das heißt wahlweise der besagten Reinigungsfläche (41) oder der besagten Düsenplatte (21).
     
    8. Druckeinheit (1) gemäß eines jeden der Patentansprüche von 1 bis 5, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die besagten Näherungssensor-Mittel (8) einen Näherungssensor des induktiven Typs umfassen.
     
    9. Druckeinheit (1) nach einem jeden der Patentansprüche von 1 bis 5, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die besagten Näherungssensor-Mittel (8) einen Ultraschall-Näherungssensor umfassen.
     
    10. Druckeinheit (1) nach einem jeden der vorstehenden Patentansprüche, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die besagten Näherungssensor-Mittel (8) so konfiguriert sind, dass sie den besagten Abstand (6) gleichzeitig in wenigstens zwei verschiedenen Punkten der besagten Düsenplatte (21) messen, welche in Richtung der Längsachse (β) der besagten Düsenplatte (21) wechselseitig voneinander distanziert sind.
     
    11. Druckeinheit (1) nach einem jeden der vorstehenden Patentansprüche, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die besagten Bewegungs-antriebsmittel (7) operativ mit der besagten Reinigungsstation (4) verbunden sind, um die besagte Reinigungsstation (4) bezüglich des besagten Druckkopfs (2) aus der besagten ersten Position in die besagte zweite Position zu verfahren.
     
    12. Druckeinheit (1) nach einem jeden der vorstehenden Patentansprüche, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die besagten Bewegungs-Antriebsmittel (7) NC-gesteuerte, elektrische Bewegungs-Antriebsmittel sind.
     
    13. Druckeinheit (1) nach Patentanspruch 12, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die besagten NC-gesteuerten, elektrischen Bewegungsantriebsmittel (7) einen NC-gesteuerten Elektromotor (71) umfassen.
     
    14. Verfahren zur Ausführung des Druckkopf-Reinigungsvorgangs durch die Druckeinheit nach einem jeden der vorstehenden Patentansprüche von 1 bis 13, des Typs, der folgende Schritte umfasst:

    - Anordnung des besagten Druckkopfs (2) unter wenigstens teilweiser Überlappung der besagten Reinigungsstation (4), so dass die besagte Düsenplatte (21) und die besagte Reinigungsfläche (41) einander wenigstens teilweise in einem vorbestimmten Abstand (6) gegenüberliegen;

    - Durchführung der relativen Verfahrung des besagten Druckkopfs (2) und der besagten Reinigungsstation (4) aus einer ersten Position, in der das besagte Saugelement (5) über einem ersten Ende (21b) der besagten Düsenplatte (21) positioniert ist, in eine zweite Position, in der das besagte Saugelement (5) über einem zweiten Ende (21a) der besagten Düsenplatte (21) positioniert ist, das dem besagten ersten Ende (21b) entgegengesetzt ist, und umgekehrt, so dass der besagte Reinigungsvorgang ausgeführt wird,

    dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass es während des besagten Reinigungsvorgangs den Schritt der Messung des besagten Abstands (6) in der besagten ersten Position und in der besagten zweiten Position umfasst.
     
    15. Verfahren nach Patentanspruch 14, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die relative Verfahrung binnen 3 und 5 mm/Sek. ausgeführt wird.
     
    16. Druckvorrichtung vom Flüssigtintenstrahltyp zum Bedrucken der Oberflächen elektronischer Leiterplatten, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass sie eine Druckeinheit nach einem jeden der Patentansprüche von 1 bis 13 umfasst.
     


    Revendications

    1. Groupe d'impression (1) du type comprenant:

    - une tête d'impression mobile (2) dotée d'une plaque de buse (21) sur laquelle une pluralité de buses (3), configurés pour l'éjection d'encre liquide, est disposée;

    - une station de nettoyage (4) comprenant une surface de nettoyage (41) dotée d'au moins un élément d'aspiration (5) configuré pour générer l'aspiration de l'air, ladite station de nettoyage (4) étant configurée pour réaliser le nettoyage de ladite pluralité de buses (3) de ladite tête d'impression (2) quand ladite tête d'impression (2) est disposée de manière à superposer au moins partiellement ladite station de nettoyage (4), de façon à ce que ladite plaque de buse (21) et ladite surface de nettoyage (41) résultent au moins partiellement l'une en face de l'autre à une distance prédéfinie (6);

    - des moyens actionneurs de mouvement (7) configurés pour réaliser la translation relative de ladite tête d'impression (2) et de ladite station de nettoyage (4) d'une première position, dans laquelle ledit élément d'aspiration (5) résulte superposé sur une première extrémité (21b) de ladite plaque de buse (21), à une deuxième position, dans laquelle ledit élément d'aspiration (5) résulte superposé sur une deuxième extrémité (21a), opposée à ladite première extrémité (21b), de ladite plaque de buse (21) et vice-versa, de façon à réaliser ladite opération de nettoyage,

    caractérisé en ce que ladite plaque de buse (21) et ladite surface de nettoyage (41) sont dotées de moyens capteurs de proximité (8) configurés pour détecter ladite distance (6) dans ladite première position et dans ladite deuxième position durant ladite opération de nettoyage.
     
    2. Groupe d'impression (1) selon la revendication 1, caractérisé en ce qu'il est configuré pour intervenir et signaler une anomalie à un opérateur au moyen de systèmes d'alarmes dans le cas où il y a une variation de la distance (6) dans ladite première position et/ou dans ladite deuxième position par rapport à la valeur fixée durant la phase de réglage.
     
    3. Groupe d'impression (1) selon la revendication 1, caractérisé en ce qu'il est configuré pour modifier automatiquement, avec un contrôle de rétroaction, la position de ladite tête d'impression (2) et/ou de ladite station de nettoyage (4) de façon à rétablir ladite distance (6) selon la valeur fixée durant la phase de réglage dans le cas où il y a une variation de la distance (6) dans ladite première position et/ou dans ladite deuxième position par rapport à ladite valeur fixée durant la phase de réglage.
     
    4. Groupe d'impression (1) selon l'une des revendications précédentes, caractérisé en ce que lesdits moyens capteurs de proximité (8) comprennent au moins deux éléments émetteurs (81) disposés sur ladite première et ladite deuxième extrémités (21b, 21a) de ladite plaque de buse (21) et au moins un élément détecteur (82) disposé sur une extrémité (41b) de ladite surface de nettoyage (41).
     
    5. Groupe d'impression (1) selon l'une des revendications précédentes, caractérisé en ce que lesdits moyens capteurs de proximité (8) comprennent au moins deux éléments émetteurs (81) disposés sur deux extrémités opposées (41a, 41b) de ladite surface de nettoyage (41) et au moins un élément détecteur (82) disposé sur une extrémité (21a) de ladite plaque de buse (21).
     
    6. Groupe d'impression (1) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 4 ou 5, caractérisé en ce que lesdits au moins deux éléments émetteurs (81) sont deux aimants permanents (91, 92) et ledit au moins un élément détecteur (82) est un capteur de proximité à effet Hall (95).
     
    7. Groupe d'impression (1) selon l'une quelconque des revendications de 4 à 6, caractérisé en ce que lesdits au moins deux éléments émetteurs (81) comprennent quatre aimants permanents (91, 92, 93, 94) disposés sur quatre angles d'une desdites deux surfaces à choisir entre ladite plaque de buse (21) et ladite surface de nettoyage (41) et ledit au moins un élément détecteur (82) comprend deux capteurs de proximité à effet Hall (95, 96) disposés sur deux angles d'une extrémité (21a, 41b) d'une desdites deux surfaces à choisir entre ladite surface de nettoyage (41) et ladite plaque de buse (21).
     
    8. Groupe d'impression (1) selon l'une quelconque des revendications de 1 à 5, caractérisé en ce que lesdits moyens capteurs de proximité (8) comprennent un capteur de proximité de type inductif.
     
    9. Groupe d'impression (1) selon l'une quelconque des revendications de 1 à 5, caractérisé en ce que lesdits moyens capteurs de proximité (8) comprennent un capteur de proximité ultrasonique.
     
    10. Groupe d'impression (1) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, caractérisé en ce que lesdits moyens capteurs de proximité (8) sont configurés pour mesurer en même temps ladite distance (6) en au moins deux points différents de ladite plaque de buse (21) espacés réciproquement dans la direction de l'axe longitudinal (β) de ladite plaque de buse (21).
     
    11. Groupe d'impression (1) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, caractérisé en ce que lesdits moyens actionneurs de mouvement (7) sont opérationnellement associés à ladite station de nettoyage (4) pour réaliser la translation de ladite station de nettoyage (4) par rapport à ladite tête d'impression (2) de ladite première position à ladite deuxième position.
     
    12. Groupe d'impression (1) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, caractérisé en ce que lesdits moyens actionneurs de mouvement (7) sont des moyens actionneurs de mouvement électriques à contrôle numérique.
     
    13. Groupe d'impression (1) selon la revendication 12, caractérisé en ce que lesdits moyens actionneurs de mouvement électriques à contrôle numérique (7) comprennent un moteur électrique à contrôle numérique (71).
     
    14. Méthode pour réaliser l'opération de nettoyage d'une tête d'impression au moyen du groupe d'impression selon l'une quelconque des revendications de 1 à 13, du type comprenant les phases suivantes:

    - disposer ladite tête d'impression (2) au moins partiellement chevauchée à ladite station de nettoyage (4) de façon à ce que ladite plaque de buse (21) et ladite surface de nettoyage (41) résultent au moins partiellement l'une en face de l'autre à une distance prédéfinie (6);

    - réaliser la translation relative de ladite tête d'impression (2) et de ladite station de nettoyage (4) d'une première position, dans laquelle ledit élément d'aspiration (5) résulte superposé à une première extrémité (21b) de ladite plaque de buse (21), à une deuxième position, dans laquelle ledit élément d'aspiration (5) résulte superposé à une deuxième extrémité (21a), opposée à ladite première extrémité (21b), de ladite plaque de buse (21) et vice-versa, de façon à réaliser ladite opération de nettoyage,

    caractérisée en ce qu'elle prévoit la phase de détection de ladite distance (6) dans ladite première position et dans ladite deuxième position durant ladite opération de nettoyage.
     
    15. Méthode selon la revendication 14, caractérisée en ce que ladite translation relative est réalisée entre 3 et 5 mm/sec.
     
    16. Dispositif d'impression du type à encre liquide pour l'impression sur les surfaces de fiches électroniques, caractérisé en ce qu'il comprend un groupe d'impression selon l'une quelconque des revendications de 1 à 13.
     




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    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description