(19)
(11)EP 2 812 759 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
22.07.2020 Bulletin 2020/30

(21)Application number: 12702831.4

(22)Date of filing:  07.02.2012
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
G03G 15/10(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/EP2012/052069
(87)International publication number:
WO 2013/117219 (15.08.2013 Gazette  2013/33)

(54)

LIQUID ELECTROPHOTOGRAPHY

FLÜSSIGELEKTROPHOTOGRAPHIE

ÉLECTROPHOTOGRAPHIE LIQUIDE


(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

(43)Date of publication of application:
17.12.2014 Bulletin 2014/51

(73)Proprietor: HP Indigo B.V.
1187 XR Amstelveen (NL)

(72)Inventor:
  • GRINWALD, Yaron
    76101 Nes Ziona (IL)

(74)Representative: Samson & Partner Patentanwälte mbB 
Widenmayerstraße 6
80538 München
80538 München (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
GB-A- 1 214 149
GB-A- 1 214 149
GB-A- 2 039 800
JP-A- 4 277 779
JP-A- 4 277 779
JP-A- 58 107 563
US-A- 4 076 405
US-A- 4 076 405
US-A- 4 204 766
US-A- 5 036 365
US-A- 5 036 365
US-A- 5 256 509
US-A- 5 289 238
US-A- 5 416 569
US-A1- 2004 152 007
US-A1- 2006 172 219
GB-A- 1 214 149
GB-A- 2 039 800
GB-A- 2 039 800
JP-A- 4 277 779
JP-A- 58 107 563
JP-A- 58 107 563
US-A- 4 076 405
US-A- 4 204 766
US-A- 4 204 766
US-A- 5 036 365
US-A- 5 256 509
US-A- 5 289 238
US-A- 5 289 238
US-A- 5 416 569
US-A1- 2004 152 007
US-A1- 2006 172 219
  
      
    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

    BACKGROUND



    [0001] Liquid electrophotography apparatus usually include a plurality of rollers that are arranged to transfer printing liquid onto a substrate (such as paper) to form an image on the substrate. The printing liquid has an opposite electrical charge to the plurality of rollers and is therefore attracted to the plurality of rollers.

    [0002] US 5,036,365A describes a filter for separating a flowing fluid containing charged particles into two streams. JP 04-277779 A describes, for a printing plate, a pair of squeezing rolls composed of a material having flexibility and insulating properties. JP 58-107563 A describes a conveying drum with a surface of a metallic shell being covered with an insulated layer. US 4,204,766 describes detecting and controlling the concentration of active toner particles in a liquid developer. GB 1 214 149 describes an electrostatic copying process including applying a layer of liquid developer containing a toner. US 5,289,238 describes an imaging apparatus with an imaging surface having a latent image with image areas at a first electrical potential. The latent image is developed with liquid toner including carrier liquid and charged toner particles. US 4,076,405 describes an electrostatographic imaging apparatus with a conductive roller having an insulating coating thereon. GB B 2 039 800 A describes a wet developer photocopying machine with electrical insulation of a resilient outer surface of a back-contacting roller of a squeegee pair from a conduction frame on which it is supported. US 5,416,569 A pertains to electrographically making devices with conductive paths. US 2004/0152007 A1 describes toner particles prepared by an emulsion aggregation process and suitable for use in electrostatic imaging processes. US 2006/0172219 A1 describes that forming an electrical device can include electrophotographic printing of a particulate material on a device substrate.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION



    [0003] Reference will now be made by way of example only to the accompanying drawings in which:

    Fig. 1 illustrates a schematic diagram of liquid electrophotography apparatus according to various examples of the invention;

    Fig. 2 illustrates a schematic diagram of another liquid electrophotography apparatus according to various examples of the invention;

    Fig. 3 illustrates a side view of a first member of a liquid electrophotography apparatus according to various examples of the invention; and

    Fig. 4 illustrates a flow diagram of a method of operating a liquid electrophotography apparatus according to various examples of the invention.


    DETAILED DESCRIPTION



    [0004] The invention is defined by the independent claim.

    [0005] In the following description, the wording 'connect' and 'couple' and their derivatives mean operationally connected or coupled. It should be appreciated that any number or combination of intervening components can exist (including no intervening components).

    [0006] Fig. 1 illustrates a schematic diagram of a liquid electrophotography apparatus 10 according to an example. The liquid electrophotography apparatus 10 includes a photoconductive drum 12, a photoconductor charging apparatus 14, an imaging apparatus 15, a container 16 of printing liquid, a spray assembly 18, a developer roller 20, an excess liquid removal assembly 21, an intermediate roller 22, a fuser 24, a pressure roller 25 and a cleaning assembly 26.

    [0007] The photoconductive drum 12 defines an exterior surface 28 for bearing an image. The exterior surface 28 may include any suitable photoconductive material. For example, the exterior surface 28 may comprise an organic photoconductor such as zinc oxide or cadmium sulphide, or may comprise a semiconductor photoconductor such as silicon. The photoconductive drum 12 is configured to rotate in an anti-clockwise direction.

    [0008] The photoconductor charging apparatus 14 is positioned adjacent the photoconductive drum 12. The photoconductor charging apparatus 14 includes an electrode that is arranged to electrically charge the exterior surface 28 of the photoconductive drum 12.

    [0009] The imaging apparatus 15 is arranged to expose the exterior surface 28 of the photoconductive drum 12 to light. Light that is incident on the exterior surface 28 of the photoconductive drum 12 causes re-arrangement of the electrical charge on the surface 28 and thus forms an image on the surface 28. The image formed on the surface 28 usually comprises image areas at a first electrical potential and background areas at another electrical potential.

    [0010] The container 16 includes printing liquid and is arranged to provide the printing liquid to the spray assembly 18 (for example, via a pump). The container 16 may be replaceable by a user so that once the printing liquid is depleted, the user may install another container 16 in the liquid electrophotography apparatus that has printing liquid therein.

    [0011] The printing liquid contained in the container 16 may be any suitable printing liquid for liquid electrophotography printing and may be conductive printing liquid. For example, the printing liquid may include at least one metal and/or at least one semiconductor and/or carbon black.

    [0012] The spray assembly 18 is arranged to receive printing liquid from the container 16 and to provide the printing liquid to the developer roller 20. The spray assembly 18 may spray onto a downward facing portion of the developer roller 20 (the spray may be upward or with an upward directional component, as illustrated in fig. 1). In other examples, the spray direction may be horizontal or it may have a downward component.

    [0013] The developer roller 20 is positioned so that it is spaced from the photoconductive drum 12 and rotates in an anti-clockwise direction. The developer roller 20 is electrically charged at a different potential to the photoconductive drum 12. The developer roller 20 receives the printing liquid from the spray assembly 18 and provides the printing liquid to the photoconductive drum 12. Since the surface 28 of the photoconductive drum 12 is electrically charged by the photoconductor charging apparatus 14, the printing liquid forms the image on the photoconductive drum 12.

    [0014] The excess liquid removal assembly 21 is arranged to remove excess printing liquid from the photoconductive drum 12. In various examples, the excess liquid removal assembly 21 may include a charged squeegee roller for removing excess printing liquid.

    [0015] The intermediate roller 22 is positioned adjacent the photoconductive drum 12 and is arranged to rotate in a clockwise direction. The intermediate roller 22 includes a layer (which may also be referred to as a blanket) and is arranged so that printing liquid (and thus the image) is transferred from the photoconductive drum 12 to the blanket of the intermediate roller 12.

    [0016] The fuser 24 is positioned adjacent the intermediate roller 22 and is arranged to provide heat to the printing liquid on the intermediate roller 22 to transform the printing liquid into a plastic film.

    [0017] The pressure roller 25 is positioned adjacent the intermediate roller 22 and is arranged to rotate in an anti-clockwise direction. The pressure roller 22 and the photoconductive drum 12 define a nip for receiving a substrate 30 and for transferring the plastic film on the intermediate roller 22 to the substrate 30. The substrate 30 may be any media such as paper or a flexible substrate for a printed circuit board.

    [0018] The cleaning assembly 26 may be any suitable cleaning station for removing printing liquid from the photoconductive drum 12. The cleaning assembly 26 may include at least one electrically charged roller for removing printing liquid.

    [0019] It should be appreciated that a plurality of members of the liquid electrophotography apparatus 10 define a flow path for the printing liquid. The wording 'flow path' should be understood to mean the path or route which the printing liquid takes within at least a part of the liquid electrophotography apparatus and the printing liquid may flow between the members (for example, via an electric field) and be transferred between the members (for example, through physical contact between the members). For example, the photoconductive drum 12, the photoconductor charging apparatus 14, the developer roller 20, the excess liquid removal assembly 21, the intermediate roller 22, and the cleaning assembly 26 define a flow path for the printing liquid provided by the spray assembly 18. At least some members of this plurality of members are arranged to generate an electric field and at least one of these members (hereinafter referred to as the first member) is at least partially covered by an insulation layer.

    [0020] Fig. 2 illustrates a schematic diagram of another liquid electrophotography apparatus 31 according to an example. The liquid electrophotography apparatus 31 is a development apparatus and includes a developer roller 32, an electrode 34, a printing liquid inlet 36, a squeegee roller 38, a cleaner roller 40, a wiper 42, a sponge roller 44, a squeeze roller 46 and a printing liquid outlet 48.

    [0021] The developer roller 32 is arranged to rotate in a clockwise direction and receive printing liquid from the printing liquid inlet 36. The electrode 34 is arranged to electrically charge the developer roller 32. The squeegee roller 38 is arranged to remove excess printing liquid from the developer roller 32. The cleaner roller 40 is arranged to remove the printing liquid from the developer roller 32 so that the developer roller 32 may receive fresh printing liquid from the printing liquid inlet 36. The wiper 42 and the sponge roller 44 are arranged to remove the printing liquid from the cleaner roller 40 and the squeeze roller 46 is arranged to compress the sponge roller 44 to remove liquid from the sponge roller 44.

    [0022] It should be appreciated that a plurality of members of the liquid electrophotography apparatus 31 define a flow path for the printing liquid. For example, the developer roller 32, the electrode 34, the squeegee roller 38, the cleaner roller 40, the wiper 42, the sponge roller 44 and the squeeze roller 46 define a flow path for the printing liquid provided by the printing liquid inlet 36. At least some members of this plurality of members are arranged to generate an electric field and at least one of these members (which may also be referred to as the first member) is at least partially covered by an insulation layer.

    [0023] Fig. 3 illustrates a side view of a first member 50 of a liquid electrophotography apparatus 10, 31 according to an example. The first member 50 may be a part of a development apparatus (for example, it may be the developer roller 20 illustrated in fig. 1 or one of the rollers illustrated in fig. 2). In various examples, the first member 50 may be one of: the developer roller 20, the electrode 14, the cleaning roller 26 or the squeegee 21 of the liquid electrophotography apparatus 10 illustrated in fig. 1. In other examples, the first member 50 may be one of: the developer roller 32, the electrode 34, the squeegee roller 38, the cleaning roller 40 or the wiper 42 of the liquid electrophotography apparatus 31 illustrated in fig. 2

    [0024] A first insulation layer 52 is arranged around at least a portion of a surface of the first member 50. In some examples, the first insulation layer 52 is arranged around the whole surface area of the first member 50. The first insulation layer 52 may be any suitable insulation layer and may include a photoresist film (such as SU8 for example).

    [0025] The first insulation layer 52 is arranged to prevent electrical discharge from a printing liquid when the printing liquid forms a layer on the first member 50. In other words, the electric field of the first member 50 attracts the printing liquid which forms a layer on the first member 50 and the first insulation layer 52 prevents the flow of charge from the layer of the printing liquid to the first member 50.

    [0026] In some examples, the liquid electrophotography apparatus 10 comprises a plurality of members that are at least partially covered by an insulation layer. For example, the liquid electrophotography apparatus 10 may comprise a second insulation layer arranged around at least a portion of a surface of a second member of the plurality of members for preventing electrical discharge from the printing liquid. The first insulation layer 34 may have a different resistivity to the second insulation layer.

    [0027] The liquid electrophotography apparatus 10, 31 provide an advantage in that since the first member 50 of the liquid electrophotography apparatus 10, 31 is at least partially covered by an insulation layer, a layer of printing liquid may not be electrically discharged through contact with the first member 50. For example, where the first member 50 is the developer roller 20, 32, the printing liquid may not be discharged through contact with the developer roller 20, 32 and this may result in improved transfer of printing liquid between the developer roller 20, 32 and the photoconductive drum 12.

    [0028] Consequently, the liquid electrophotography apparatus 10, 31 may be advantageously used to print relatively high quality conducting and semiconducting patterns on a substrate. For example, the liquid electrophotography apparatus 10, 31 may be used to print conductive traces on a printed circuit board. The liquid electrophotography apparatus 10, 31 may also be used to print relatively high quality graphical metallic images (based on conducting pigments such as aluminium) on a substrate. Additionally, the liquid electrophotography apparatus 10, 31 may be used to print high loaded carbon black based black ink.

    [0029] Fig. 4 illustrates a flow diagram of a method of operating a liquid electrophotography apparatus 10, 31. At step 54, the method includes providing at least one container 16 of printing liquid to the liquid electrophotography apparatus 10, 31.

    [0030] At step 56, the method includes causing the printing liquid to be provided to a plurality of members (such as the members 12, 14, 20, 21, 26, 32, 38, 40, 42) defining a flow path for the printing liquid. For example, a user may operate a user input device of the liquid electrophotography apparatus 10, 31 to initiate the apparatus 10, 31 and to cause the apparatus 10, 31 to print printing liquid on a substrate.

    [0031] At step 58, the method includes receiving a substrate from the liquid electrophotography apparatus 10, 31 that has the printing liquid printed thereon.

    [0032] The illustration of a particular order to the steps does not necessarily imply that there is a required or preferred order for the steps and the order and arrangement of the steps may be varied. Furthermore, it may be possible for some steps to be omitted (for example, step 54 may be not carried out each time the liquid electrophotography apparatus 10, 31 is operated).

    [0033] Although examples have been described in the preceding paragraphs, it should be appreciated that modifications to the examples given can be made without departing from the scope of the invention as claimed.

    [0034] Features described in the preceding description may be used in combinations other than the combinations explicitly described.

    [0035] Although functions have been described with reference to certain features, those functions may be performable by other features whether described or not.

    [0036] Although features have been described with reference to certain examples, those features may also be present in other examples whether described or not.


    Claims

    1. A method of printing a conducting or semiconducting pattern on a substrate using a liquid electrophotography apparatus (10, 31), the method comprising:
    causing a printing liquid to be provided to a plurality of members (12, 14, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 32, 38, 40, 42, 50) defining a flow path for the printing liquid, at least a first member (50) of the plurality of members (12, 14, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 32, 38, 40, 42, 50) being an electric-field-generating member (50), wherein the printing liquid comprises one or more metals and/or one or more semiconductors, characterized in that the method further comprises:
    preventing, by a first insulation layer (52) being arranged around at least a portion of a surface of the first member (50), a flow of charge from a layer of the printing liquid to the first member (50).
     
    2. A method as claimed in claim 1, further comprising providing at least one container (16) of printing liquid to the liquid electrophotography apparatus (10, 31).
     
    3. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the first member is a part of a development apparatus.
     
    4. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein the first member is one of: a developer roller (20), an electrode (14, 34), a cleaning roller (4, 26) or a squeegee (21, 38, 46).
     
    5. A method as claimed in claim 1, wherein a second insulation layer is arranged around at least a portion of a surface of a second member of the plurality of members (12, 14, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 32, 38, 40, 42, 50) for preventing electrical discharge from the printing liquid.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Verfahren zum Drucken einer leitenden oder halbleitenden Struktur auf ein Substrat unter Verwendung einer Flüssigkeitselektrofotografievorrichtung (10, 31), wobei das Verfahren Folgendes umfasst:
    Veranlassen, dass eine Druckflüssigkeit mehreren Elementen (12, 14, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 32, 38, 40, 42, 50) bereitgestellt wird, die einen Strömungsweg für die Druckflüssigkeit definieren, wobei wenigstens ein erstes Element (50) der mehreren Elemente (12, 14, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 32, 38, 40, 42, 50) ein Element (50) ist, das ein elektrisches Feld erzeugt, wobei die Druckflüssigkeit ein oder mehrere Metalle und/oder einen oder mehrere Halbleiter umfasst, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass das Verfahren ferner Folgendes umfasst:
    Verhindern, durch eine erste Isolationsschicht (52), die um wenigstens einen Abschnitt einer Oberfläche des ersten Elements (50) angeordnet ist, einer Ladungsströmung aus einer Schicht der Druckflüssigkeit zu dem ersten Element (50).
     
    2. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, das ferner das Bereitstellen wenigstens eines Behälters (16) von Druckflüssigkeit für die Flüssigkeitselektrofotografievorrichtung (10, 31) umfasst.
     
    3. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, wobei das erste Element ein Teil einer Entwicklungsvorrichtung ist.
     
    4. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, wobei das erste Element eines von Folgendem ist:
    eine Entwicklerwalze (20), eine Elektrode (14, 34), eine Reinigungswalze (4, 26) oder eine Rakel (21, 38, 46).
     
    5. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, wobei eine zweite Isolationsschicht um wenigstens einen Abschnitt einer Oberfläche eines zweiten Elements der mehreren Elemente (12, 14, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 32, 38, 40, 42, 50) zum Verhindern einer elektrischen Entladung aus der Druckflüssigkeit angeordnet ist.
     


    Revendications

    1. Procédé d'impression d'un motif conducteur ou semi-conducteur sur un substrat utilisant un appareil d'électrophotographie liquide (10, 31), le procédé comprenant :
    la provocation de la fourniture d'un liquide d'impression à une pluralité d'éléments (12, 14, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 32, 38, 40, 42, 50) définissant un circuit d'écoulement pour le liquide d'impression, au moins un premier élément (50) de la pluralité d'éléments (12, 14, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 32, 38, 40, 42, 50) étant un élément générateur de champ électrique (50), dans lequel le liquide d'impression comprend un ou plusieurs métaux et/ou un ou plusieurs semi-conducteurs, caractérisé en ce que le procédé comprend en outre :
    la prévention, par une première couche d'isolation (52) étant disposée autour d'au moins une partie d'une surface du premier élément (50), d'un flux de charge à partir d'une couche du liquide d'impression vers le premier élément (50).
     
    2. Procédé selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre la fourniture d'au moins un récipient (16) de liquide d'impression vers l'appareil d'électrophotographie liquide (10, 31).
     
    3. Procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le premier élément fait partie d'un appareil de développement.
     
    4. Procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le premier élément fait partie :
    d'un rouleau développeur (20), d'une électrode (14, 34), d'un rouleau de nettoyage (4, 26) ou d'une raclette (21, 38, 46).
     
    5. Procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel une seconde couche d'isolation est disposée autour d'au moins une partie d'une surface d'un second élément de la pluralité d'éléments (12, 14, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 32, 38, 40, 42, 50) pour empêcher une décharge électrique à partir du liquide d'impression.
     




    Drawing

















    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