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Since it seems that the aim is to create an ink-jet printer, a printer head is needed.
In most modern printers the print head is made of a large number of tiny nozzles in silicone with reservoirs above them, and utilise a micro-resistor and a high-current pulse in the region of 10 micro seconds to cause some of the ink to create a bubble through vaporisation to push out the ink as is shown here http://computer.howstuffworks.com/inkjet-printer3.htm
The other method uses piezo crystals to shake the ink out, but this is patented by epson and is thus not available for use.
There seem to be two options available:
- Buy or modify a pre-existing printer head
- Make our own
The first option doesn't sound too bad, and is possible without even buying a whole printer - the old Cannon BJ 30's had the printer heads built into the cartridge, so theoretically the purchase of a number of these could work with some experimentation with the cartridge pins.
However, that seems to me to be a bit like cheating, and I'm sure there must be a DIY solution...
Silicone in it's self isn't hard to acquire, but the issues are around the 300+ dpi of a standard inkjet printer - if the aim was closer to 90 dpi, it is possible that we could even make the printhead through a basic process that I will outline here:
First, create a stamp of wires, with each 'pillar' starting thick at the bottom and then changing into a thinner wire - i.e. from the reservoirs to the nozzles.
Secondly, create a similar form of tiny coils of high resistance wire around each of the nozzles to create the resistant element that will create the bubble to print.
Next, place this construction in a small container (the size of this colour's print head), making sure all the nozzle tips are hitting the bottom of the container, and then pour in the silicone.
Finally, carefully remove the stamp, leaving it's imprint and the resistance coils embedded in the silicone.
This will theoretically work as far as I can see, although it may take some time testing it and require deeper nozzles than a standard printer to allow for lower resistance wire to be used to create a bubble over a larger area (as we may not be able to get the wire type that printer manufacturers use).
Other than this, there is the possibility of using a force based system, where a number of nozzles have piezo crystals that would expand to close off the nozzles while having a pump at the back end to slowly force ink through the open nozzles.
Could you not print a printhead,,.
using conductive inks and a thin piezo electric layer.