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Beverage cans printed using Tonejet inkjet technology Obama tonejet cans.jpg
Beverage cans printed using Tonejet inkjet technology

Tonejet is a drop-on-demand inkjet printing technology that enables the direct digital deposition of printing ink onto substrates. The Tonejet digital printing process is targeted at commercial and industrial applications. [1]

Inkjet printing Type of computer printing

Inkjet printing is a type of computer printing that recreates a digital image by propelling droplets of ink onto paper, plastic, or other substrates. Inkjet printers are the most commonly used type of printer, and range from small inexpensive consumer models to expensive professional machines.

Digital printing

Digital printing refers to methods of printing from a digital-based image directly to a variety of media. It usually refers to professional printing where small-run jobs from desktop publishing and other digital sources are printed using large-format and/or high-volume laser or inkjet printers. Digital printing has a higher cost per page than more traditional offset printing methods, but this price is usually offset by avoiding the cost of all the technical steps required to make printing plates. It also allows for on-demand printing, short turnaround time, and even a modification of the image used for each impression. The savings in labor and the ever-increasing capability of digital presses means that digital printing is reaching the point where it can match or supersede offset printing technology's ability to produce larger print runs of several thousand sheets at a low price.


Tonejet was first disclosed in Patent Cooperation Treaty publication WO 93/11866 dated June 24, 1993, with the inventor named as Luis Lima-Marques, and assigned to Research Laboratories of Australia Pty. Ltd., in Adelaide, Australia. [2] A number of patents relating to the technology, including United States Patent 6,260,954, have been granted. Research Laboratories of Australia formed a partnership with The Technology Partnership plc, a technology and product development company from the UK, to add hardware development expertise. Tonejet now has its headquarters in Cambridge, UK. [3]

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an international patent law treaty, concluded in 1970. It provides a unified procedure for filing patent applications to protect inventions in each of its contracting states. A patent application filed under the PCT is called an international application, or PCT application.


The Tonejet process is an electrostatic drop-on-demand deposition technology that enables high-quality images to be printed onto virtually any type of absorbing or non-absorbing substrate at high speed. The Tonejet process consists of electrostatic concentration and ejection of particles from a fluid. The Tonejet print head enables an electric field to be applied to the ink. The Tonejet ink is a key part of the ejection process; it consists of electrically charged conventional pigments in a non-conductive liquid. In the Tonejet printhead, an electric force is applied directly to the charged ink particles. The longer the electric pulse is applied, the more ink is ejected. The Tonejet ejection process concentrates the ink prior to ejecting the droplets onto the substrate, with continuous greyscale control. The Tonejet printhead is a three-dimensional structure consisting of side walls, flow channels and ejectors. An ink meniscus is formed between the side walls and the ejector. The Tonejet printhead is therefore a simple, nozzleless, open structure. [4]

Electric field spatial distribution of vectors representing the force applied to a charged test particle

An electric field surrounds an electric charge, and exerts force on other charges in the field, attracting or repelling them. Electric field is sometimes abbreviated as E-field. Mathematically the electric field is a vector field that associates to each point in space the force per unit of charge exerted on an infinitesimal positive test charge at rest at that point. The SI unit for electric field strength is volt per meter (V/m). Newtons per coulomb (N/C) is also used as a unit of electric field strengh. Electric fields are created by electric charges, or by time-varying magnetic fields. Electric fields are important in many areas of physics, and are exploited practically in electrical technology. On an atomic scale, the electric field is responsible for the attractive force between the atomic nucleus and electrons that holds atoms together, and the forces between atoms that cause chemical bonding. Electric fields and magnetic fields are both manifestations of the electromagnetic force, one of the four fundamental forces of nature.

Pigment material that changes the color of reflected or transmitted light

A pigment is a material that changes the color of reflected or transmitted light as the result of wavelength-selective absorption. This physical process differs from fluorescence, phosphorescence, and other forms of luminescence, in which a material emits light. Most materials selectively absorb certain wavelengths of light. Materials that humans have chosen and developed for use as pigments usually have special properties that make them useful for coloring other materials. A pigment must have a high tinting strength relative to the materials it colors. It must be stable in solid form at ambient temperatures.

Commercial products

In late 2007, Tonejet announced that it had produced the world's widest integral printhead for use in an industrial printer. The 172 mm (6.8 in) wide printhead would enable the vast majority of food and drink packaging to be printed in a single pass, thereby bringing substantial logistics and cost savings to the packaging industry. [5]

In 2008, Ball Packaging Europe announced that in cooperation with Tonejet, they would supply individually designed beverage cans using the Tonejet process with photo quality, 600 dpi resolution. [6]

In June 2010, Air Berlin launched its own line of beverage cans after becoming the first customer for Ball Packaging Europe's technology co-operation with Tonejet. [7] [ dead link ] There is some interest particularly in printing cans for the craft beer market. [8] [9] [10]

Air Berlin former German airline

Air Berlin PLC & Co. Luftverkehrs KG, branded as airberlin or was a major German airline. At its peak, it was Germany's second-largest airline, as well as Europe's tenth-largest airline in terms of passengers carried. It was headquartered in Berlin and had hubs at Berlin Tegel Airport and Düsseldorf Airport. It was a member of the oneworld airline alliance.

See also

Related Research Articles

Printer (computing) electronic device which produces a representation of an electronic document on physical media

In computing, a printer is a peripheral device which makes a persistent human-readable representation of graphics or text on paper. The first computer printer designed was a mechanically driven apparatus by Charles Babbage for his difference engine in the 19th century; however, his mechanical printer design was not built until 2000. The first electronic printer was the EP-101, invented by Japanese company Epson and released in 1968. The first commercial printers generally used mechanisms from electric typewriters and Teletype machines. The demand for higher speed led to the development of new systems specifically for computer use. In the 1980s were daisy wheel systems similar to typewriters, line printers that produced similar output but at much higher speed, and dot matrix systems that could mix text and graphics but produced relatively low-quality output. The plotter was used for those requiring high quality line art like blueprints.

Laser printing type of printer

Laser printing is an electrostatic digital printing process. It produces high-quality text and graphics by repeatedly passing a laser beam back and forth over a negatively charged cylinder called a "drum" to define a differentially charged image. The drum then selectively collects electrically charged powdered ink (toner), and transfers the image to paper, which is then heated in order to permanently fuse the text, imagery, or both. As with digital photocopiers, laser printers employ a xerographic printing process. However, laser printing differs from analog photocopiers in that the image is produced by the direct scanning of the medium across the printer's photoreceptor. This enables laser printing to copy images more quickly than most photocopiers.

Dot matrix printing class of printers

Dot matrix printing, sometimes called impact matrix printing, is the process of computer printing from a collection of dot matrix data to a device, which can be one of:

Dye-sublimation printer

A dye-sublimation printer is a computer printer which uses heat to transfer dye onto materials such as a plastic, card, paper, or fabric. The sublimation name was first applied because the dye was considered to make the transition between the solid and gas states without going through a liquid stage. This understanding of the process was later shown to be incorrect. There is some liquifying of the dye. Since then, the process is sometimes known as dye-diffusion, though this has not eliminated the original name. Many consumer and professional dye-sublimation printers are designed and used for producing photographic prints, ID cards, clothing, and more.


Flexography is a form of printing process which utilizes a flexible relief plate. It is essentially a modern version of letterpress which can be used for printing on almost any type of substrate, including plastic, metallic films, cellophane, and paper. It is widely used for printing on the non-porous substrates required for various types of food packaging.

Giclée Fine art ink jet prints produced from digital files or artwork.

Giclée is a neologism coined in 1991 by printmaker Jack Duganne for fine art digital prints made on inkjet printers. The name originally applied to fine art prints created on a modified Iris printer in a process invented in the late 1980s. It has since been used loosely to mean any fine-art, most of the times archival, inkjet print. It is often used by artists, galleries, and print shops to suggest high quality printing but since it is an unregulated word it has no associated warranty of quality.


Rotogravure is a type of intaglio printing process, which involves engraving the image onto an image carrier. In gravure printing, the image is engraved onto a cylinder because, like offset printing and flexography, it uses a rotary printing press. Once a staple of newspaper photo features, the rotogravure process is still used for commercial printing of magazines, postcards, and corrugated (cardboard) and other product packaging.

LED printer led printer

An LED printer is a type of computer printer similar to a laser printer. LED technology uses a light-emitting diode array as a light source in the printhead instead of the laser used in laser printers and, more generally, in the xerography process. The LED bar pulse-flashes across the entire page width and creates the image on the print drum or belt as it moves past.

An Iris printer is a large-format color inkjet printer introduced in 1985 by Iris Graphics, originally of Stoneham, Massachusetts and currently manufactured by the Graphic Communications Group of Eastman Kodak, designed for prepress proofing. It is also used in the fine art reproduction market as a final output digital printing press, as in Giclée.

Wide format printers are generally accepted to be any computer-controlled printing machines (printers) that support a maximum print roll width of between 18" and 100". Printers with capacities over 100" wide are considered super wide or grand format. Wide format printers are used to print banners, posters, trade show graphics, wallpaper, murals, backlit film (duratrans), vehicle image wraps, electronic circuit schematics, architectural drawings, construction plans, backdrops for theatrical and media sets, and any other large format artwork or signage. Wide format printers usually employ some variant of inkjet or toner based technology to produce the printed image; and are more economical than other print methods such as screen printing for most short-run print projects, depending on print size, run length, and the type of substrate or print medium. Wide format printers are usually designed for printing onto a roll of print media that feeds incrementally during the print process, rather than onto individual sheets.

Continuous ink system method for delivering a large volume of liquid ink to a comparatively small inkjet printhead

A continuous ink system (CIS), also known as a continuous ink supply system (CISS), a continuous flow system (CFS), an automatic ink refill system (AIRS), a bulk feed ink system (BFIS), or an off-axis ink delivery system (OIDS) is a method for delivering a large volume of liquid ink to a comparatively small inkjet printhead. Many business and professional grade printers incorporate a continuous ink system in their design to increase printing capacity.

Ink cartridge component of an inkjet printer that contains the ink that is deposited onto paper during printing (for cartridges for fountain pens use Q13362749)

An ink cartridge or inkjet cartridge is a component of an inkjet printer that contains the ink that is deposited onto paper during printing.

Solid ink

Solid ink is a technology used in computer printers and multifunction devices originally credited with creation by Tektronix in 1986.

Printed electronics

Printed electronics is a set of printing methods used to create electrical devices on various substrates. Printing typically uses common printing equipment suitable for defining patterns on material, such as screen printing, flexography, gravure, offset lithography, and inkjet. By electronic industry standards, these are low cost processes. Electrically functional electronic or optical inks are deposited on the substrate, creating active or passive devices, such as thin film transistors; capacitors; coils; resistors. Printed electronics is expected to facilitate widespread, very low-cost, low-performance electronics for applications such as flexible displays, smart labels, decorative and animated posters, and active clothing that do not require high performance.

Flatbed digital printer reproduction of digital images on physical surfaces

Flatbed digital printers, also known as flatbed printers or flatbed UV printers, are printers characterized by a flat surface upon which a material is placed to be printed on. Flatbed printers are capable of printing on a wide variety of materials such as photographic paper, film, cloth, plastic, pvc, acrylic, glass, ceramic, metal, wood, leather, etc.). Flatbed digital printers usually use UV curable inks made of acrylic monomers that are then exposed to strong UV-light to cure, or polymerize them. This process allows for printing on a wide variety of surfaces such as wood or canvas, carpet, tile, and even glass. The adjustable printing bed makes it possible to print on surfaces ranging in thickness from a sheet of paper often up to as much as several inches. Typically used for commercial applications, flatbed printing is often a substitute for screen-printing. Since no printing plates or silkscreens must be produced, digital printing technology allows shorter runs of signs to be produced economically. Many of the high-end flatbed printers allow for roll-feed, allowing for unattended printing.

Inkjet solar cells are solar cells manufactured by low-cost, high tech methods that use an inkjet printer to lay down the semiconductor material and the electrodes onto a solar cell substrate.

Inkjet technology is a method for depositing liquid droplets on a substrate. It was originally developed for the publishing industry, but has become a popular method in digital fabrication of electronic and mechanical devices. Although both terms, "inkjet technology" and "inkjet printing", are commonly used interchangeably, inkjet printing usually refers to the publishing industry, used for printing graphical content, while inkjet technology usually refers to the general purpose fabrication via inkjetting.

Digital Printing Systems Innovations(DPS Innovations) is an international company based in scientific research city Akademgorodok, that specializes in digital printing technology, software and electronics for global inkjet printing market and R&D project development for printing systems.


  1. Teape, John. "Tonejet: A New Standard in Digital Printing", The Society for Imaging Science and Technology, NIP18 Conference Proceedings, pg.145-147, 2001, ISBN   0-89208-240-2
  2. Lima-Marques, Luis. "Method and Apparatus for the Production of Discrete Agglomerations of Particulate Matter", "U.S. Patent, 6,260,954", 2001
  3. Blackstone Research Associates. "Color Business Report", Volume 17 Number 8, August 2007
  4. Newcombe, Guy. "Meeting the needs of the Packaging Industry", Tonejet Ltd. 2009 Archived 2011-07-17 at the Wayback Machine
  5. Kiernan, Steven."Tonejet project develops world's widest integral printhead",, November 11, 2007 Archived July 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  6. Ball Packaging Europe."Brau 2008: Individual design thanks to digital printing",, November 12, 2008 Archived July 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  7. Brooks, Josh."Air Berlin revealed as first customer for Tonejet's inkjet cans",, June 6, 2010

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