Inkjet Printing Processes

Inkjet Printing Processes

Inkjet printing technology comprises two main configurations:

  • the binder jetting method or bonding method,
  • the material jetting method or buildup method.

Binder Jetting

Binder jetting aka binder jet printing (BJP), is an additive manufacturing process in which powder is deposited layer by layer and selectively joined in each layer with a liquid binder. It’s different than material jetting where the binder jetting printed component is self-supported within the removable powder bed. However, 3D printed parts have limited mechanical properties and sometimes, require further infiltration, sintering, or casting to be reinforced.

In addition to metals, binder jetting can work with a range of other materials, like sand and ceramics.

Figure. Typical schematic of binder jetting, in which
powders are adhered layer by layer with liquid binder.

Material jetting

Material jetting produces 3D printed components of the highest dimensional accuracy with a very smooth surface finish. This AM process is leveraged for both visual prototypes and tools manufacturing. In the «layer by layer» printing process, wax-like melted materials are jetted through inkjet print heads, which then cure and solidify. Material jetting allows for different materials to be printed in the same object, making it one of the rare 3D printing technologies to deliver the production of parts from multiple materials and in full colour. However, as part of this process, support material may be required and jetted. Also, note that support material is usually built from a different material and removed during the postprocessing stage.
Lastly, technologies such as photopolymer jetting, drop on demand (DoD), thermojet printing, inkjet printing, and multijet modeling/printing all belong to the family of material jetting.

Typical schematic of material jetting, in which printer jets both build and support material on a platform using either a continuous or droplet approach