Thursday, August 2, 2012

Invented Clog-Free Printer Inspired by Human Eye

Bio-mimicry applied to the invention of a clog-free printer.

Printer users knows how annoying it is when your printer's nozzles clogged in, producing outputs with print blots and streaks. Not only does it waste you some time, it also waste you some money. Good thing, a new technology was invented by the engineers of the University of Missouri, a clog preventing nozzle cover.

The clog-preventing nozzle cover became possible through the application of bio-mimicry or biomimetics, which models, systems and processes to emulate or take inspiration from biology to solve problems. Bio-mimicry has led the way to the development of new clothes, machines and armor, and now it had also opened the door to the creation of the clog-free nozzle cover.

Led by Jae Wan Kwon, the associate professor of the College of Engineering, together with a group of the engineering students had combined the biological concept of how the eyelids spread a film of oil over the layers of tears to keep the eye from drying up. Kwon's invention follows the same concept, it uses a droplet of silicon oil to cover the opening of the nozzle when not in use, similar to the film of oil that keeps a thin layer of tears from evaporating off the eye.

Here is what Kwon has to say about the concept behind the clog-preventing nozzle cover:

Kwon, Jae Wan
“The nozzle cover we invented was inspired by the human eye. The eye and an ink jet nozzle have a common problem: they must not be allowed to dry while, simultaneously, they must open. We used biomimicry, the imitation of nature, to solve human problems.”

“Other printing devices use similar mechanisms to ink jet printers,” Kwon said. “Adapting the clog-free nozzle to these machines could save businesses and researchers thousands of dollars in wasted materials. For example, biological tissue printers, which may someday be capable of fabricating replacement organs, squirt out living cells to form biological structures. Those cells are so expensive that researchers often find it cheaper to replace the nozzles rather than waste the cells. Clog-free nozzles would eliminate the costly replacements.”

This new discovery may give way to the invention of enhanced inkjet cartridges for the printer users. To know more about it, a paper documenting the invention of the clog preventing nozzle cover is published in the Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems.

Sources: University of Missouri News Bureau

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