Xerox Direct to Object Inkjet Printer for Printing on 3D Objects Now Available


A custom-printed water bottle.

Xerox reports that its commercial inkjet printer, the Direct to Object Inkjet Printer – which can print photos, images, and text directly onto 3D objects in just minutes – is now available.

The printer’s tiny, stainless-steel inkjet nozzles are contained in print heads – about the size of a deck of cards – that spray ink on objects as small as bottle caps and as large as football helmets. The printer can print on plastic, metals, ceramics, and glass, eliminating the need for labels.

“This innovation opens up a path for creating customized products instantly at a time when the consumer’s appetite is all about personalization,” said Brendan Casey, vice president of Xerox Engineering Services. “Imagine a sports fan coming home from a game with a helmet or ball that was personalized right at the stadium, or a retailer offering on-demand personalization on hundreds of different store items.”

Xerox says it uses enhanced image-quality algorithms to direct the microscopic nozzles half the width of a human hair. By accurately spraying ink at distances of one-quarter inch, the printer is able to print on smooth, rough, slightly curved or stepped surfaces at print resolutions ranging from 300 to 1,200 dpi. It can handle up to 30 objects per hour, with the ability to scale for production.

“The real innovation here is that we can now print on items, such as steel water bottles with multiple curves, without the setup time and costs that analog printing such as flexography or screen printing require,” said Wayne Buchar, chief engineer of Xerox Engineering Services.

Other innovative features include:

  • The ink jets are compatible with virtually any type of ink chemistry, including solvent, aqueous, and UV inks, and can be operated at temperatures as high as 140°C, enabling jetting of specialized inks that meet demanding requirements.
  • The innovative architecture features a flexible design for holders so that objects can be changed out easily.
  • Xerox software ensures precise print-head-to-print-head registration and best-in-class color calibration.

The firm says the new printer promises to create new revenue opportunities for a number of industries:

  • Retail: In competitive retail space where brick-and-mortar stores are in a battle with online retailers, Xerox says the printer is easy-to-use, fun-to-watch, and offers highly customizable output allowing stores to offer walk-up, low-cost print runs as low as one on a variety of objects.
  • Printing: For those serving a variety of markets, centralized print providers or distributors (online or brick-and-mortar) can offer small runs for personalizing and customizing products.
  • Packaging and Manufacturing: Eliminates the cost and headache of printing labels; offers a flexible architecture that can support conveyors if necessary.

The Xerox Direct to Object Printer is a customized solution built to order. Xerox will work directly with customers to optimize a custom configuration specifically suited for customers’ applications. Pricing starts at $145,000 (U.S.) and varies according to configuration and options.

For more information on the Direct to Object Inkjet Printer, visit Xerox here.

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