The Elimination of Overspray – Deposition with Inkjet

Cyan Tec Systems are pioneering the use of inkjet print technology to replace spray systems in a wide variety of industrial sectors. The use of inkjet can eliminate masking, reduce fluid waste by up to 80% and offer the ability to create individualized patterns and images. Cyan Tec continues to sell spray systems where the application requires it, however customers are increasingly attracted by the advantages of inkjet over spray.

Spray technology has several major disadvantages. It is impossible to spray selectively and where the substrate contains holes, for example, waste occurs, as the spray passes through the holes. Similarly, the technology requires overspray, where the deposition starts before it reaches the initial edge of the part and overruns as it reaches the trailing edge of the part. Cyan Tec has found that on an automotive dashboard part, for example, fluid loss through the holes and off the edges of the part, results in over 70% fluid waste. Naturally in today’s world, such waste is not environmentally acceptable, where it can be at all avoided by adopting alternative technologies.  

Inkjet technology was pioneered in the UK and offers the advantages of direct to product deposition, print flexibility, minimized waste and production efficiency. Cyan Tec apply their knowledge of inkjet born in the graphics and promo markets to also deploy the technology for industrial coatings. By marrying their inkjet print knowledge and vast experience of robotics and motion systems, the company offer systems that deposit decorative and functional fluids directly onto 3D objects eliminating wasteful overspray and costly masking processes. Cyan Tec claims its inkjet systems utilised, for example, to coat automotive dashboards with piano black anti-scratch finishes use up to 70% less fluid than a spray process. Where the fluid deposited is solvent based harmful VOC emissions can also be reduced by up to 70%.

Cyan Tec inkjet systems use an array of around 1000 tiny nozzles to deposit fluid precisely where required on to the substrate. Each nozzle fires a number of picolitre drops accurately controlled by means of a piezo firing element. The array which is between 50cm and 70cm wide can create a spray swathe of that width. The piezo firing elements can be addressed individually, via drive electronics and software. The selective nature of inkjet technology means features such as component holes can be avoided and fluid deposition curtailed at the edges of the product to eliminate overspray. The controllability and flexibility of inkjet means patterns and images can be created without the need for masking resulting in process efficiencies.

Examples of coating applications in the automotive arena, include high gloss interiors and protective exterior coatings over illuminated surfaces. Cyan Tec continues to drive inkjet technology into new areas and development work is taking place with more exotic functional fluids for electric vehicle electronics and aerospace applications. Like most technologies, inkjet deposition has its limitations – very high viscosities or large particle size fluids can be challenging to deposit, however these limits are being constantly surmounted as printhead manufacturers develop new printheads to meet these challenges.

Cyan Tec market a number of modular systems from entry level, single conveyor printers to sophisticated robotic depositions systems along with all the necessary automation upstream and downstream to take care of loading, cleaning, pre-treatment, curing, vision inspection unloading and so on. The company also sells flexible print modules including printheads, fluid supply systems, electronics and software as a package that can be integrated into existing or third-party customer machines.

If you think your coating or decorating process could benefit from the direct, selective, addressable deposition that inkjet technology offers, Cyan Tec are there to guide you through the possibilities. Contact them today to discuss your application at or telephone +44 (0)1509 815186.