Title:
DIGITAL CAMERA HAVING PRINTHEAD AND REMOVABLE CARTRIDGE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A digital camera is provided having an image sensor for capturing images, an image processor for processing image data from the image sensor to produce print data, a cartridge interface for receiving a cartridge having a supply of media wrapped around the supply of ink, and a printhead for printing the print data on to the media supplied by the cartridge using the ink supplied by the cartridge.



Inventors:
Silverbrook, Kia (Balmain, AU)
Application Number:
12/559458
Publication Date:
01/14/2010
Filing Date:
09/14/2009
Assignee:
Siverbrook Research Pty Ltd
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
348/311, 348/E5.024, 348/E5.091
International Classes:
H04N5/225; B41J2/14; B41J2/16; B41J2/175; B41J3/42; B41J3/44; B41J11/00; B41J11/70; B41J15/04; B42D15/10; G06F1/16; G06F21/00; G06K1/12; G06K7/14; G06K19/06; G07F7/08; G07F7/12; G11C11/56; H04N1/21; H04N1/32; H04N5/262; H04N5/335; B41J2/165; H04N1/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
VU, NGOC YEN T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SILVERBROOK RESEARCH PTY LTD (393 DARLING STREET, BALMAIN, null, 2041, AU)
Claims:
1. A digital camera comprising: an image sensor for capturing images; an image processor for processing image data from the image sensor to produce print data; a cartridge interface for receiving a cartridge having a supply of media wrapped around the supply of ink; and a printhead for printing the print data on to the media supplied by the cartridge using the ink supplied by the cartridge.

2. A digital camera according to claim 1 wherein an image sensor comprises a charge coupled device (CCD) for capturing the images and an auto exposure setting for adjusting the image data captured by the CCD in response to the lighting conditions at image capture; and, the image processor is adapted to use information from the auto exposure setting relating to the lighting conditions at image capture when processing the image data from the CCD.

3. A digital camera according to claim 2 wherein the image processor uses the information from the auto exposure setting to determine a re-mapping of colour data within the image data from the CCD such that the printhead prints an amended image that takes account of the light conditions at image capture.

4. A digital camera according to claim 3 wherein the image processor uses the information from the auto exposure setting to add exposure specific graphics to the printed image.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a Continuation-in-Part of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/112,743 filed on Jul. 10, 1998, now issued U.S. Pat. No. 6,727,951.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to digital cameras and in particular, the onboard processing of image data captured by the camera.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Recently, digital cameras have become increasingly popular. These cameras normally operate by means of imaging a desired image utilising a charge coupled device (CCD) array and storing the imaged scene on an electronic storage medium for later down loading onto a computer system for subsequent manipulation and printing out. Normally, when utilising a computer system to print out an image, sophisticated software may available to manipulate the image in accordance with requirements.

Unfortunately such systems require significant post processing of a captured image and normally present the image in an orientation to which it was taken, relying on the post processing process to perform any necessary or required modifications of the captured image. Also, much of the environmental information available when the picture was taken is lost. Furthermore, the type or size of the media substrate and the types of ink used to print the image can also affect the image quality. Accounting for these factors during post processing of the captured image data can be complex and time consuming.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, the present invention provides a digital camera for use with a media cartridge comprising a supply of media substrate on which images can be printed, and an information store with information relating to the media substrate, the camera comprising:

an image sensor for capturing an image;

an image processor for processing image data from the image sensor and transmitting processed data to a printhead; and,

a cartridge interface for accessing the information such that the image processor can utilise the information relating to the media substrate.

The camera accesses information about the media substrate so that the image processor can utilise the information to enhance the quality of the printed image.

Preferably, the media substrate has postcard formatting printed on its reverse surface so that the camera can produce personalised postcards, and the information store has the dimensions of the postcard formatting to allow the image processor to align printed images with the postcard formatting.

In a further preferred form the cartridge further comprises an ink supply for the printhead and the information store is an authentication chip that allows the image processor to confirm that the media substrate and the ink supply is suitable for use with the camera.

According to a related aspect, there is provided a digital camera for sensing and storing an image, the camera comprising:

an image sensor with a charge coupled device (CCD) for capturing image data relating to a sensed image, and an auto exposure setting for adjusting the image data captured by the CCD in response to the lighting conditions at image capture; and,

an image processor for processing image data from the CCD and storing the processed data; wherein,

the image processor is adapted to use information from the auto exposure setting relating to the lighting conditions at image capture when processing the image data from the CCD.

Utilising the auto exposure setting to determine an advantageous re-mapping of colours within the image allows the processor to produce an amended image having colours within an image transformed to account of the auto exposure setting. The processing can comprise re-mapping image colours so they appear deeper and richer when the exposure setting indicates low light conditions and re-mapping image colours to be brighter and more saturated when the auto exposure setting indicates bright light conditions.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

Notwithstanding any other forms which may fall within the scope of the present invention, preferred forms of the invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings which:

FIG. 1 illustrates an Artcam device constructed in accordance with the preferred embodiment.

FIG. 2 is a schematic block diagram of the main Artcam electronic components.

FIG. 3 is a schematic block diagram of the Artcam Central Processor.

FIG. 4 illustrates the method of operation of the preferred embodiment;

FIG. 5 illustrates a form of print roll ready for purchase by a consumer;

FIG. 6 illustrates a perspective view, partly in section, of an alternative form of a print roll;

FIG. 7 is a left side exploded perspective view of the print roll of FIG. 6; and,

FIG. 8 is a right side exploded perspective view of a single print roll.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED AND OTHER EMBODIMENTS

The digital image processing camera system constructed in accordance with the preferred embodiment is as illustrated in FIG. 1. The camera unit 1 includes means for the insertion of an integral print roll (not shown). The camera unit 1 can include an area image sensor 2 which sensors an image 3 for captured by the camera. Optionally, the second area image sensor can be provided to also image the scene 3 and to optionally provide for the production of stereographic output effects.

The camera 1 can include an optional color display 5 for the display of the image being sensed by the sensor 2. When a simple image is being displayed on the display 5, the button 6 can be depressed resulting in the printed image 8 being output by the camera unit 1. A series of cards, herein after known as “Artcards” 9 contain, on one surface encoded information and on the other surface, contain an image distorted by the particular effect produced by the Artcard 9. The Artcard 9 is inserted in an Artcard reader 10 in the side of camera 1 and, upon insertion, results in output image 8 being distorted in the same manner as the distortion appearing on the surface of Artcard 9. Hence, by means of this simple user interface a user wishing to produce a particular effect can insert one of many Artcards 9 into the Artcard reader 10 and utilize button 19 to take a picture of the image 3 resulting in a corresponding distorted output image 8.

The camera unit 1 can also include a number of other control button 13, 14 in addition to a simple LCD output display 15 for the display of informative information including the number of printouts left on the internal print roll on the camera unit. Additionally, different output formats can be controlled by CHP switch 17.

Turning now to FIG. 2, there is illustrated a schematic view of the internal hardware of the camera unit 1. The internal hardware is based around an Artcam central processor unit (ACP) 31.

Artcam Central Processor 31

The Artcam central processor 31 provides many functions which form the ‘heart’ of the system. The ACP 31 is preferably implemented as a complex, high speed, CMOS system on-a-chip. Utilising standard cell design with some full custom regions is recommended. Fabrication on a 0.25μ CMOS process will provide the density and speed required, along with a reasonably small die area.

The functions provided by the ACP 31 include:

1. Control and digitization of the area image sensor 2. A 3D stereoscopic version of the ACP requires two area image sensor interfaces with a second optional image sensor 4 being provided for stereoscopic effects.

2. Area image sensor compensation, reformatting, and image enhancement.

3. Memory interface and management to a memory store 33.

4. Interface, control, and analog to digital conversion of an Artcard reader linear image sensor 34 which is provided for the reading of data from the Artcards 9.

5. Extraction of the raw Artcard data from the digitized and encoded Artcard image.

6. Reed-Solomon error detection and correction of the Artcard encoded data. The encoded surface of the Artcard 9 includes information on how to process an image to produce the effects displayed on the image distorted surface of the Artcard 9. This information is in the form of a script, hereinafter known as a “Vark script”. The Vark script is utilised by an interpreter running within the ACP 31 to produce the desired effect.

7. Interpretation of the Vark script on the Artcard 9.

8. Performing image processing operations as specified by the Vark script.

9. Controlling various motors for the paper transport 36, zoom lens 38, autofocus 39 and Artcard driver 37.

10. Controlling a guillotine actuator 40 for the operation of a guillotine 41 for the cutting of photographs 8 from print roll 42.

11. Half-toning of the image data for printing.

12. Providing the print data to a print-head 44 at the appropriate times.

13. Controlling the print head 44.

14. Controlling the ink pressure feed to print-head 44.

15. Controlling optional flash unit 56.

16. Reading and acting on various sensors in the camera, including camera orientation sensor 46, autofocus 47 and Artcard insertion sensor 49.

17. Reading and acting on the user interface buttons 6, 13, 14.

18. Controlling the status display 15.

19. Providing viewfinder and preview images to the color display 5.

20. Control of the system power consumption, including the ACP power consumption via power management circuit 51.

21. Providing external communications 52 to general purpose computers (using part USB).

22. Reading and storing information in a printing roll authentication chip 53.

23. Reading and storing information in a camera authentication chip 54.

24. Communicating with an optional mini-keyboard 57 for text modification.

Quartz Crystal 58

A quartz crystal 58 is used as a frequency reference for the system clock. As the system clock is very high, the ACP 31 includes a phase locked loop clock circuit to increase the frequency derived from the crystal 58.

Image Sensing

Area Image Sensor 2

The area image sensor 2 converts an image through its lens into an electrical signal. It can either be a charge coupled device (CCD) or an active pixel sensor (APS) CMOS image sector. At present, available CCD's normally have a higher image quality, however, there is currently much development occurring in CMOS imagers. CMOS imagers are eventually expected to be substantially cheaper than CCD's have smaller pixel areas, and be able to incorporate drive circuitry and signal processing. They can also be made in CMOS fabs, which are transitioning to 12″ wafers. CCD's are usually built in 6″ wafer fabs, and economics may not allow a conversion to 12″ fabs. Therefore, the difference in fabrication cost between CCD's and CMOS imagers is likely to increase, progressively favoring CMOS imagers. However, at present, a CCD is probably the best option.

The Artcam unit will produce suitable results with a 1,500×1,000 area image sensor. However, smaller sensors, such as 750×500, will be adequate for many markets. The Artcam is less sensitive to image sensor resolution than are conventional digital cameras. This is because many of the styles contained on Artcards 9 process the image in such a way as to obscure the lack of resolution. For example, if the image is distorted to simulate the effect of being converted to an impressionistic painting, low source image resolution can be used with minimal effect. Further examples for which low resolution input images will typically not be noticed include image warps which produce high distorted images, multiple miniature copies of the of the image (eg. passport photos), textural processing such as bump mapping for a base relief metal look, and photo-compositing into structured scenes.

This tolerance of low resolution image sensors may be a significant factor in reducing the manufacturing cost of an Artcam unit 1 camera. An Artcam with a low cost 750×500 image sensor will often produce superior results to a conventional digital camera with a much more expensive 1,500×1,000 image sensor.

Optional Stereoscopic 3D Image Sensor 4

The 3D versions of the Artcam unit 1 have an additional image sensor 4, for stereoscopic operation. This image sensor is identical to the main image sensor. The circuitry to drive the optional image sensor may be included as a standard part of the ACP chip 31 to reduce incremental design cost. Alternatively, a separate 3D Artcam ACP can be designed. This option will reduce the manufacturing cost of a mainstream single sensor Artcam.

Print Roll Authentication Chip 53

A small chip 53 is included in each print roll 42. This chip replaced the functions of the bar code, optical sensor and wheel, and ISO/ASA sensor on other forms of camera film units such as Advanced Photo Systems film cartridges.

The authentication chip also provides other features:

1. The storage of data rather than that which is mechanically and optically sensed from APS rolls

2. A remaining media length indication, accurate to high resolution.

3. Authentication Information to prevent inferior clone print roll copies.

The authentication chip 53 contains 1024 bits of Flash memory, of which 128 bits is an authentication key, and 512 bits is the authentication information. Also included is an encryption circuit to ensure that the authentication key cannot be accessed directly.

Print-Head 44

The Artcam unit 1 can utilize any color print technology which is small enough, low enough power, fast enough, high enough quality, and low enough cost, and is compatible with the print roll. Relevant printheads will be specifically discussed hereinafter.

The specifications of the ink jet head are:

Image typeBi-level, dithered
ColorCMY Process Color
Resolution1600 dpi
Print head length‘Page-width’ (100 mm)
Print speed2 seconds per photo

Optional Ink Pressure Controller (not Shown)

The function of the ink pressure controller depends upon the type of ink jet print head 44 incorporated in the Artcam. For some types of ink jet, the use of an ink pressure controller can be eliminated, as the ink pressure is simply atmospheric pressure. Other types of print head require a regulated positive ink pressure. In this case, the in pressure controller consists of a pump and pressure transducer.

Other print heads may require an ultrasonic transducer to cause regular oscillations in the ink pressure, typically at frequencies around 100 KHz. In the case, the ACP 31 controls the frequency phase and amplitude of these oscillations.

Paper Transport Motor 36

The paper transport motor 36 moves the paper from within the print roll 42 past the print head at a relatively constant rate. The motor 36 is a miniature motor geared down to an appropriate speed to drive rollers which move the paper. A high quality motor and mechanical gears are required to achieve high image quality, as mechanical rumble or other vibrations will affect the printed dot row spacing.

Paper Transport Motor Driver 60

The motor driver 60 is a small circuit which amplifies the digital motor control signals from the APC 31 to levels suitable for driving the motor 36.

Paper Pull Sensor

A paper pull sensor 50 detects a user's attempt to pull a photo from the camera unit during the printing process. The APC 31 reads this sensor 50, and activates the guillotine 41 if the condition occurs. The paper pull sensor 50 is incorporated to make the camera more ‘foolproof’ in operation. Were the user to pull the paper out forcefully during printing, the print mechanism 44 or print roll 42 may (in extreme cases) be damaged. Since it is acceptable to pull out the ‘pod’ from a Polaroid type camera before it is fully ejected, the public has been ‘trained’ to do this. Therefore, they are unlikely to heed printed instructions not to pull the paper.

The Artcam preferably restarts the photo print process after the guillotine 41 has cut the paper after pull sensing.

The pull sensor can be implemented as a strain gauge sensor, or as an optical sensor detecting a small plastic flag which is deflected by the torque that occurs on the paper drive rollers when the paper is pulled. The latter implementation is recommendation for low cost.

Paper Guillotine Actuator 40

The paper guillotine actuator 40 is a small actuator which causes the guillotine 41 to cut the paper either at the end of a photograph, or when the paper pull sensor 50 is activated.

The guillotine actuator 40 is a small circuit which amplifies a guillotine control signal from the APC tot the level required by the actuator 41.

Artcard 9

The Artcard 9 is a program storage medium for the Artcam unit. As noted previously, the programs are in the form of Vark scripts. Vark is a powerful image processing language especially developed for the Artcam unit. Each Artcard 9 contains one Vark script, and thereby defines one image processing style.

Preferably, the VARK language is highly image processing specific. By being highly image processing specific, the amount of storage required to store the details on the card are substantially reduced. Further, the ease with which new programs can be created, including enhanced effects, is also substantially increased. Preferably, the language includes facilities for handling many image processing functions including image warping via a warp map, convolution, color lookup tables, posterizing an image, adding noise to an image, image enhancement filters, painting algorithms, brush jittering and manipulation edge detection filters, tiling, illumination via light sources, bump maps, text, face detection and object detection attributes, fonts, including three dimensional fonts, and arbitrary complexity pre-rendered icons. Further details of the operation of the Vark language interpreter are contained hereinafter.

Hence, by utilizing the language constructs as defined by the created language, new affects on arbitrary images can be created and constructed for inexpensive storage on Artcard and subsequent distribution to camera owners. Further, on one surface of the card can be provided an example illustrating the effect that a particular VARK script, stored on the other surface of the card, will have on an arbitrary captured image.

By utilizing such a system, camera technology can be distributed without a great fear of obsolescence in that, provided a VARK interpreter is incorporated in the camera device, a device independent scenario is provided whereby the underlying technology can be completely varied over time. Further, the VARK scripts can be updated as new filters are created and distributed in an inexpensive manner, such as via simple cards for card reading.

The Artcard 9 is a piece of thin white plastic with the same format as a credit card (86 mm long by 54 mm wide). The Artcard is printed on both sides using a high resolution ink jet printer. The inkjet printer technology is assumed to be the same as that used in the Artcam, with 1600 dpi (63 dpmm) resolution. A major feature of the Artcard 9 is low manufacturing cost. Artcards can be manufactured at high speeds as a wide web of plastic film. The plastic web is coated on both sides with a hydrophilic dye fixing layer. The web is printed simultaneously on both sides using a ‘pagewidth’ color ink jet printer. The web is then cut and punched into individual cards. On one face of the card is printed a human readable representation of the effect the Artcard 9 will have on the sensed image. This can be simply a standard image which has been processed using the Vark script stored on the back face of the card.

On the back face of the card is printed an array of dots which can be decoded into the Vark script that defines the image processing sequence. The print area is 80 mm×50 mm, giving a total of 15,876,000 dots. This array of dots could represent at least 1.89 Mbytes of data. To achieve high reliability, extensive error detection and correction is incorporated in the array of dots. This allows a substantial portion of the card to be defaced, worn, creased, or dirty with no effect on data integrity. The data coding used is Reed-Solomon coding, with half of the data devoted to error correction. This allows the storage of 967 Kbytes of error corrected data on each Artcard 9.

Linear Image Sensor 34

The Artcard linear sensor 34 converts the aforementioned Artcard data image to electrical signals. As with the area image sensor 2, 4, the linear image sensor can be fabricated using either CCD or APS CMOS technology. The active length of the image sensor 34 is 50 mm, equal to the width of the data array on the Artcard 9. To satisfy Nyquist's sampling theorem, the resolution of the linear image sensor 34 must be at least twice the highest spatial frequency of the Artcard optical image reaching the image sensor. In practice, data detection is easier if the image sensor resolution is substantially above this. A resolution of 4800 dpi (189 dpmm) is chosen, giving a total of 9,450 pixels. This resolution requires a pixel sensor pitch of 5.3 μm. This can readily be achieved by using four staggered rows of 20 μm pixel sensors.

The linear image sensor is mounted in a special package which includes a LED 65 to illuminate the Artcard 9 via a light-pipe (not shown).

The Artcard reader light-pipe can be a molded light-pipe which has several function:

1. It diffuses the light from the LED over the width of the card using total internal reflection facets.

2. It focuses the light onto a 16 μm wide strip of the Artcard 9 using an integrated cylindrical lens.

3. It focuses light reflected from the Artcard onto the linear image sensor pixels using a molded array of microlenses.

The operation of the Artcard reader is explained further hereinafter.

Artcard Reader Motor 37

The Artcard reader motor propels the Artcard past the linear image sensor 34 at a relatively constant rate. As it may not be cost effective to include extreme precision mechanical components in the Artcard reader, the motor 37 is a standard miniature motor geared down to an appropriate speed to drive a pair of rollers which move the Artcard 9. The speed variations, rumble, and other vibrations will affect the raw image data as circuitry within the APC 31 includes extensive compensation for these effects to reliably read the Artcard data.

The motor 37 is driven in reverse when the Artcard is to be ejected.

Artcard Motor Driver 61

The Artcard motor driver 61 is a small circuit which amplifies the digital motor control signals from the APC 31 to levels suitable for driving the motor 37.

Card Insertion Sensor 49

The card insertion sensor 49 is an optical sensor which detects the presence of a card as it is being inserted in the card reader 34. Upon a signal from this sensor 49, the APC 31 initiates the card reading process, including the activation of the Artcard reader motor 37.

Card Eject Button 16

A card eject button 16 (FIG. 1) is used by the user to eject the current Artcard, so that another Artcard can be inserted. The APC 31 detects the pressing of the button, and reverses the Artcard reader motor 37 to eject the card.

card status indicator 66

A card status indicator 66 is provided to signal the user as to the status of the Artcard reading process. This can be a standard bi-color (red/green) LED. When the card is successfully read, and data integrity has been verified, the LED lights up green continually. If the card is faulty, then the LED lights up red.

If the camera is powered from a 1.5 V instead of 3V battery, then the power supply voltage is less than the forward voltage drop of the greed LED, and the LED will not light. In this case, red LEDs can be used, or the LED can be powered from a voltage pump which also powers other circuits in the Artcam which require higher voltage.

64 Mbit DRAM 33

To perform the wide variety of image processing effects, the camera utilizes 8 Mbytes of memory 33. This can be provided by a single 64 Mbit memory chip. Of course, with changing memory technology increased Dram storage sizes may be substituted.

High speed access to the memory chip is required. This can be achieved by using a Rambus DRAM (burst access rate of 500 Mbytes per second) or chips using the new open standards such as double data rate (DDR) SDRAM or Synclink DRAM.

Camera Authentication Chip

The camera authentication chip 54 is identical to the print roll authentication chip 53, except that it has different information stored in it. The camera authentication chip 54 has three main purposes:

1. To provide a secure means of comparing authentication codes with the print roll authentication chip;

2. To provide storage for manufacturing information, such as the serial number of the camera;

3. To provide a small amount of non-volatile memory for storage of user information.

Displays

The Artcam includes an optional color display 5 and small status display 15. Lowest cost consumer cameras may include a color image display, such as a small TFT LCD 5 similar to those found on some digital cameras and camcorders. The color display 5 is a major cost element of these versions of Artcam, and the display 5 plus back light are a major power consumption drain.

Status Display 15

The status display 15 is a small passive segment based LCD, similar to those currently provided on silver halide and digital cameras. Its main function is to show the number of prints remaining in the print roll 42 and icons for various standard camera features, such as flash and battery status.

Color Display 5

The color display 5 is a full motion image display which operates as a viewfinder, as a verification of the image to be printed, and as a user interface display. The cost of the display 5 is approximately proportional to its area, so large displays (say 4″ diagonal) unit will be restricted to expensive versions of the Artcam unit. Smaller displays, such as color camcorder viewfinder TFT's at around 1″, may be effective for mid-range Artcams.

Zoom Lens (not Shown)

The Artcam can include a zoom lens. This can be a standard electronically controlled zoom lens, identical to one which would be used on a standard electronic camera, and similar to pocket camera zoom lenses. A referred version of the Artcam unit may include standard interchangeable 35 mm SLR lenses.

Autofocus Motor 39

The autofocus motor 39 changes the focus of the zoom lens. The motor is a miniature motor geared down to an appropriate speed to drive the autofocus mechanism.

Autofocus Motor Driver 63

The autofocus motor driver 63 is a small circuit which amplifies the digital motor control signals from the APC 31 to levels suitable for driving the motor 39.

Zoom Motor 38

The zoom motor 38 moves the zoom front lenses in and out. The motor is a miniature motor geared down to an appropriate speed to drive the zoom mechanism.

Zoom Motor Driver 62

The zoom motor driver 62 is a small circuit which amplifies the digital motor control signals from the APC 31 to levels suitable for driving the motor.

Communications

The ACP 31 contains a universal serial bus (USB) interface 52 for communication with personal computers. Not all Artcam models are intended to include the USB connector. However, the silicon area required for a USB circuit 52 is small, so the interface can be included in the standard ACP.

Optional Keyboard 57

The Artcam unit may include an optional miniature keyboard 57 for customizing text specified by the Artcard. Any text appearing in an Artcard image may be editable, even if it is in a complex metallic 3D font. The miniature keyboard includes a single line alphanumeric LCD to display the original text and edited text. The keyboard may be a standard accessory.

The ACP 31 contains a serial communications circuit for transferring data to and from the miniature keyboard.

Power Supply

The Artcam unit uses a battery 48. Depending upon the Artcam options, this is either a 3V Lithium cell, 1.5 V AA alkaline cells, or other battery arrangement.

Power Management Unit 51

Power consumption is an important design constraint in the Artcam. It is desirable that either standard camera batteries (such as 3V lithium batters) or standard AA or AAA alkaline cells can be used. While the electronic complexity of the Artcam unit is dramatically higher than 35 mm photographic cameras, the power consumption need not be commensurately higher. Power in the Artcam can be carefully managed with all unit being turned off when not in use.

The most significant current drains are the ACP 31, the area image sensors 2,4, the printer 44 various motors, the flash unit 56, and the optional color display 5 dealing with each part separately:

1. ACP: If fabricated using 0.25 μm CMOS, and running on 1.5V, the ACP power consumption can be quite low. Clocks to various parts of the ACP chip can be quite low. Clocks to various parts of the ACP chip can be turned off when not in use, virtually eliminating standby current consumption. The ACP will only fully used for approximately 4 seconds for each photograph printed.

2. Area image sensor: power is only supplied to the area image sensor when the user has their finger on the button.

3. The printer power is only supplied to the printer when actually printing. This is for around 2 seconds for each photograph. Even so, suitably lower power consumption printing should be used.

4. The motors required in the Artcam are all low power miniature motors, and are typically only activated for a few seconds per photo.

5. The flash unit 45 is only used for some photographs. Its power consumption can readily be provided by a 3V lithium battery for a reasonably battery life.

6. The optional color display 5 is a major current drain for two reasons: it must be on for the whole time that the camera is in use, and a backlight will be required if a liquid crystal display is used. Cameras which incorporate a color display will require a larger battery to achieve acceptable batter life.

Flash Unit 56

The flash unit 56 can be a standard miniature electronic flash for consumer cameras.

Overview of the ACP 31

FIG. 3 illustrates the Artcam Central Processor (ACP) 31 in more detail. The Artcam Central Processor provides all of the processing power for Artcam. It is designed for a 0.25 micron CMOS process, with approximately 1.5 million transistors and an area of around 50 mm2. The ACP 31 is a complex design, but design effort can be reduced by the use of datapath compilation techniques, macrocells, and IP cores. The ACP 31 contains:

A RISC CPU core 72

A 4 way parallel VLIW Vector Processor 74

A Direct RAMbus interface 81

A CMOS image sensor interface 83

A CMOS linear image sensor interface 88

A USB serial interface 52

An infrared keyboard interface 55

A numeric LCD interface 84, and

A color TFT LCD interface 88

A 4 Mbyte Flash memory 70 for program storage 70

The RISC CPU, Direct RAMbus interface 81, CMOS sensor interface 83 and USB serial interface 52 can be vendor supplied cores. The ACP 31 is intended to run at a clock speed of 200 MHz on 3V externally and 1.5V internally to minimize power consumption. The CPU core needs only to run at 100 MHz. The following two block diagrams give two views of the ACP 31:

A view of the ACP 31 in isolation

An example Artcam showing a high-level view of the ACP 31 connected to the rest of the Artcam hardware.

Image Access

As stated previously, the DRAM Interface 81 is responsible for interfacing between other client portions of the ACP chip and the RAMBUS DRAM. In effect, each module within the DRAM Interface is an address generator.

There are three logical types of images manipulated by the ACP. They are:

    • CCD Image, which is the Input Image captured from the CCD.
    • Internal Image format—the Image format utilised internally by the Artcam device.
    • Print Image—the Output Image format printed by the Artcam

These images are typically different in color space, resolution, and the output & input color spaces which can vary from camera to camera. For example, a CCD image on a low-end camera may be a different resolution, or have different color characteristics from that used in a high-end camera. However all internal image formats are the same format in terms of color space across all cameras.

In addition, the three image types can vary with respect to which direction is ‘up’. The physical orientation of the camera causes the notion of a portrait or landscape image, and this must be maintained throughout processing. For this reason, the internal image is always oriented correctly, and rotation is performed on images obtained from the CCD and during the print operation.

CPU Core (CPU) 72

The ACP 31 incorporates a 32 bit RISC CPU 72 to run the Vark image processing language interpreter and to perform Artcam's general operating system duties. A wide variety of CPU cores are suitable: it can be any processor core with sufficient processing power to perform the required core calculations and control functions fast enough to met consumer expectations. Examples of suitable cores are: MIPS R4000 core from LSI Logic, StrongARM core. There is no need to maintain instruction set continuity between different Artcam models. Artcard compatibility is maintained irrespective of future processor advances and changes, because the Vark interpreter is simply re-compiled for each new instruction set. The ACP 31 architecture is therefore also free to evolve. Different ACP 31 chip designs may be fabricated by different manufacturers, without requiring to license or port the CPU core. This device independence avoids the chip vendor lock-in such as has occurred in the PC market with Intel. The CPU operates at 100 MHz, with a single cycle time of 10 ns. It must be fast enough to run the Vark interpreter, although the VLIW Vector Processor 74 is responsible for most of the time-critical operations.

Program Cache 72

Although the program code is stored in on-chip Flash memory 70, it is unlikely that well packed Flash memory 70 will be able to operate at the 10 ns cycle time required by the CPU. Consequently a small cache is required for good performance. 16 cache lines of 32 bytes each are sufficient, for a total of 512 bytes. The program cache 72 is defined in the chapter entitled Program cache 72.

Data Cache 76

A small data cache 76 is required for good performance. This requirement is mostly due to the use of a RAMbus DRAM, which can provide high-speed data in bursts, but is inefficient for single byte accesses. The CPU has access to a memory caching system that allows flexible manipulation of CPU data cache 76 sizes. A minimum of 16 cache lines (512 bytes) is recommended for good performance.

CPU Memory Model

An Artcam's CPU memory model consists of a 32 MB area. It consists of 8 MB of physical RDRAM off-chip in the base model of Artcam, with provision for up to 16 MB of off-chip memory. There is a 4 MB Flash memory 70 on the ACP 31 for program storage, and finally a 4 MB address space mapped to the various registers and controls of the ACP 31. The memory map then, for an Artcam is as follows:

ContentsSize
Base Artcam DRAM8 MB
Extended DRAM8 MB
Program memory (on ACP 31 in Flash memory4 MB
70)
Reserved for extension of program memory4 MB
ACP 31 registers and memory-mapped I/O4 MB
Reserved4 MB
TOTAL32 MB 

A straightforward way of decoding addresses is to use address bits 23-24:

    • If bit 24 is clear, the address is in the lower 16-MB range, and hence can be satisfied from DRAM and the Data cache 76. In most cases the DRAM will only be 8 MB, but 16 MB is allocated to cater for a higher memory model Artcams.
    • If bit 24 is set, and bit 23 is clear, then the address represents the Flash memory 70 4 Mbyte range and is satisfied by the Program cache 72.
    • If bit 24=1 and bit 23=1, the address is translated into an access over the low speed bus to the requested component in the AC by the CPU Memory Decoder 68.

Flash Memory 70

The ACP 31 contains a 4 Mbyte Flash memory 70 for storing the Artcam program. It is envisaged that Flash memory 70 will have denser packing coefficients than masked ROM, and allows for greater flexibility for testing camera program code. The downside of the Flash memory 70 is the access time, which is unlikely to be fast enough for the 100 MHz operating speed (10 ns cycle time) of the CPU. A fast Program Instruction cache 77 therefore acts as the interface between the CPU and the slower Flash memory 70.

Program Cache 72

A small cache is required for good CPU performance. This requirement is due to the slow speed Flash memory 70 which stores the Program code. 16 cache lines of 32 bytes each are sufficient, for a total of 512 bytes. The Program cache 72 is a read only cache. The data used by CPU programs comes through the CPU Memory Decoder 68 and if the address is in DRAM, through the general Data cache 76. The separation allows the CPU to operate independently of the VLIW Vector Processor 74. If the data requirements are low for a given process, it can consequently operate completely out of cache.

Finally, the Program cache 72 can be read as data by the CPU rather than purely as program instructions. This allows tables, microcode for the VLIW etc to be loaded from the Flash memory 70. Addresses with bit 24 set and bit 23 clear are satisfied from the Program cache 72.

CPU Memory Decoder 68

The CPU Memory Decoder 68 is a simple decoder for satisfying CPU data accesses. The Decoder translates data addresses into internal ACP register accesses over the internal low speed bus, and therefore allows for memory mapped I/O of ACP registers. The CPU Memory Decoder 68 only interprets addresses that have bit 24 set and bit 23 clear. There is no caching in the CPU Memory Decoder 68.

DRAM Interface 81

The DRAM used by the Artcam is a single channel 64 Mbit (8 MB) RAMbus RDRAM operating at 1.6 GB/sec. RDRAM accesses are by a single channel (16-bit data path) controller. The RDRAM also has several useful operating modes for low power operation. Although the Rambus specification describes a system with random 32 byte transfers as capable of achieving a greater than 95% efficiency, this is not true if only part of the 32 bytes are used. Two reads followed by two writes to the same device yields over 86% efficiency. The primary latency is required for bus turn-around going from a Write to a Read, and since there is a Delayed Write mechanism, efficiency can be further improved. With regards to writes, Write Masks allow specific subsets of bytes to be written to. These write masks would be set via internal cache “dirty bits”. The upshot of the Rambus Direct RDRAM is a throughput of >1 GB/sec is easily achievable, and with multiple reads for every write (most processes) combined with intelligent algorithms making good use of 32 byte transfer knowledge, transfer rates of >1.3 GB/sec are expected. Every 10 ns, 16 bytes can be transferred to or from the core.

DRAM Organization

    • The DRAM organization for a base model (8 MB RDRAM) Artcam is as follows:

ContentsSize
Program scratch RAM0.50MB
Artcard data1.00MB
Photo Image, captured from CMOS Sensor0.50MB
Print Image (compressed)2.25MB
1 Channel of expanded Photo Image1.50MB
1 Image Pyramid of single channel1.00MB
Intermediate Image Processing1.25MB
TOTAL8MB

Notes:

  • Uncompressed, the Print Image requires 4.5 MB (1.5 MB per channel). To accommodate other objects in the 8 MB model, the Print Image needs to be compressed. If the chrominance channels are compressed by 4:1 they require only 0.375 MB each).
  • The memory model described here assumes a single 8 MB RDRAM. Other models of the Artcam may have more memory, and thus not require compression of the Print Image. In addition, with more memory a larger part of the final image can be worked on at once, potentially giving a speed improvement.
  • Note that ejecting or inserting an Artcard invalidates the 5.5 MB area holding the Print Image, 1 channel of expanded photo image, and the image pyramid. This space may be safely used by the Artcard Interface for decoding the Artcard data.

Data Cache 76

The ACP 31 contains a dedicated CPU instruction cache 77 and a general data cache 76. The Data cache 76 handles all DRAM requests (reads and writes of data) from the CPU, the VLIW Vector Processor 74, and the Display Controller 88. These requests may have very different profiles in terms of memory usage and algorithmic timing requirements. For example, a VLIW process may be processing an image in linear memory, and lookup a value in a table for each value in the image. There is little need to cache much of the image, but it may be desirable to cache the entire lookup table so that no real memory access is required. Because of these differing requirements, the Data cache 76 allows for an intelligent definition of caching.

Although the Rambus DRAM interface 81 is capable of very high-speed memory access (an average throughput of 32 bytes in 25 ns), it is not efficient dealing with single byte requests. In order to reduce effective memory latency, the ACP 31 contains 128 cache lines. Each cache line is 32 bytes wide. Thus the total amount of data cache 76 is 4096 bytes (4 KB). The 128 cache lines are configured into 16 programmable-sized groups. Each of the 16 groups must be a contiguous set of cache lines. The CPU is responsible for determining how many cache lines to allocate to each group. Within each group cache lines are filled according to a simple Least Recently Used algorithm. In terms of CPU data requests, the Data cache 76 handles memory access requests that have address bit 24 clear. If bit 24 is clear, the address is in the lower 16 MB range, and hence can be satisfied from DRAM and the Data cache 76. In most cases the DRAM will only be 8 MB, but 16 MB is allocated to cater for a higher memory model Artcam. If bit 24 is set, the address is ignored by the Data cache 76.

All CPU data requests are satisfied from Cache Group 0. A minimum of 16 cache lines is recommended for good CPU performance, although the CPU can assign any number of cache lines (except none) to Cache Group 0. The remaining Cache Groups (1 to 15) are allocated according to the current requirements. This could mean allocation to a VLIW Vector Processor 74 program or the Display Controller 88. For example, a 256 byte lookup table required to be permanently available would require 8 cache lines. Writing out a sequential image would only require 2-4 cache lines (depending on the size of record being generated and whether write requests are being Write Delayed for a significant number of cycles). Associated with each cache line byte is a dirty bit, used for creating a Write Mask when writing memory to DRAM. Associated with each cache line is another dirty bit, which indicates whether any of the cache line bytes has been written to (and therefore the cache line must be written back to DRAM before it can be reused). Note that it is possible for two different Cache Groups to be accessing the same address in memory and to get out of sync. The VLIW program writer is responsible to ensure that this is not an issue. It could be perfectly reasonable, for example, to have a Cache Group responsible for reading an image, and another Cache Group responsible for writing the changed image back to memory again. If the images are read or written sequentially there may be advantages in allocating cache lines in this manner. A total of 8 buses 182 connect the VLIW Vector Processor 74 to the Data cache 76. Each bus is connected to an I/O Address Generator. (There are 2 I/O Address Generators 189, 190 per Processing Unit 178, and there are 4 Processing Units in the VLIW Vector Processor 74. The total number of buses is therefore 8). In any given cycle, in addition to a single 32 bit (4 byte) access to the CPU's cache group (Group 0), 4 simultaneous accesses of 16 bits (2 bytes) to remaining cache groups are permitted on the 8 VLIW Vector Processor 74 buses. The Data cache 76 is responsible for fairly processing the requests. On a given cycle, no more than 1 request to a specific Cache Group will be processed. Given that there are 8 Address Generators 189, 190 in the VLIW Vector Processor 74, each one of these has the potential to refer to an individual Cache Group. However it is possible and occasionally reasonable for 2 or more Address Generators 189, 190 to access the same Cache Group. The CPU is responsible for ensuring that the Cache Groups have been allocated the correct number of cache lines, and that the various Address Generators 189, 190 in the VLIW Vector Processor 74 reference the specific Cache Groups correctly.

The Data cache 76 as described allows for the Display Controller 88 and VLIW Vector Processor 74 to be active simultaneously. If the operation of these two components were deemed to never occur simultaneously, a total 9 Cache Groups would suffice. The CPU would use Cache Group 0, and the VLIW Vector Processor 74 and the Display Controller 88 would share the remaining 8 Cache Groups, requiring only 3 bits (rather than 4) to define which Cache Group would satisfy a particular request.

JTAG Interface 85

A standard JTAG (Joint Test Action Group) Interface is included in the ACP 31 for testing purposes. Due to the complexity of the chip, a variety of testing techniques are required, including BIST (Built In Self Test) and functional block isolation. An overhead of 10% in chip area is assumed for overall chip testing circuitry. The test circuitry is beyond the scope of this document.

Serial Interfaces

USB Serial Port Interface 52

This is a standard USB serial port, which is connected to the internal chip low speed bus, thereby allowing the CPU to control it.

Keyboard Interface 65

This is a standard low-speed serial port, which is connected to the internal chip low speed bus, thereby allowing the CPU to control it. It is designed to be optionally connected to a keyboard to allow simple data input to customize prints.

Authentication Chip Serial Interfaces 64

These are 2 standard low-speed serial ports, which are connected to the internal chip low speed bus, thereby allowing the CPU to control them. The reason for having 2 ports is to connect to both the on-camera Authentication chip, and to the print-roll Authentication chip using separate lines. Only using 1 line may make it possible for a clone print-roll manufacturer to design a chip which, instead of generating an authentication code, tricks the camera into using the code generated by the authentication chip in the camera.

Parallel Interface 67

The parallel interface connects the ACP 31 to individual static electrical signals. The CPU is able to control each of these connections as memory-mapped I/O via the low speed bus The following table is a list of connections to the parallel interface:

ConnectionDirectionPins
Paper transport stepper motorOut4
Artcard stepper motorOut4
Zoom stepper motorOut4
Guillotine motorOut1
Flash triggerOut1
Status LCD segment driversOut7
Status LCD common driversOut4
Artcard illumination LEDOut1
Artcard status LED (red/green)In2
Artcard sensorIn1
Paper pull sensorIn1
Orientation sensorIn2
ButtonsIn4
TOTAL36

VLIW Input and Output FIFOs 78, 79

The VLIW Input and Output FIFOs are 8 bit wide FIFOs used for communicating between processes and the VLIW Vector Processor 74. Both FIFOs are under the control of the VLIW Vector Processor 74, but can be cleared and queried (e.g. for status) etc by the CPU.

VLIW Input FIFO 78

A client writes 8-bit data to the VLIW Input FIFO 78 in order to have the data processed by the VLIW Vector Processor 74. Clients include the Image Sensor Interface, Artcard Interface, and CPU. Each of these processes is able to offload processing by simply writing the data to the FIFO, and letting the VLIW Vector Processor 74 do all the hard work. An example of the use of a client's use of the VLIW Input FIFO 78 is the Image Sensor Interface (ISI 83). The ISI 83 takes data from the Image Sensor and writes it to the FIFO. A VLIW process takes it from the FIFO, transforming it into the correct image data format, and writing it out to DRAM. The ISI 83 becomes much simpler as a result.

VLIW Output FIFO 79

The VLIW Vector Processor 74 writes 8-bit data to the VLIW Output FIFO 79 where clients can read it. Clients include the Print Head Interface and the CPU. Both of these clients is able to offload processing by simply reading the already processed data from the FIFO, and letting the VLIW Vector Processor 74 do all the hard work. The CPU can also be interrupted whenever data is placed into the VLIW Output FIFO 79, allowing it to only process the data as it becomes available rather than polling the FIFO continuously. An example of the use of a client's use of the VLIW Output FIFO 79 is the Print Head Interface (PHI 62). A VLIW process takes an image, rotates it to the correct orientation, color converts it, and dithers the resulting image according to the print head requirements. The PHI 62 reads the dithered formatted 8-bit data from the VLIW Output FIFO 79 and simply passes it on to the Print Head external to the ACP 31. The PHI 62 becomes much simpler as a result.

VLIW Vector Processor 74

To achieve the high processing requirements of Artcam, the ACP 31 contains a VLIW (Very Long Instruction Word) Vector Processor. The VLIW processor is a set of 4 identical Processing Units (PU e.g 178) working in parallel, connected by a crossbar switch 183. Each PU e.g 178 can perform four 8-bit multiplications, eight 8-bit additions, three 32-bit additions, I/O processing, and various logical operations in each cycle. The PUs e.g 178 are microcoded, and each has two Address Generators 189, 190 to allow full use of available cycles for data processing. The four PUs e.g 178 are normally synchronized to provide a tightly interacting VLIW processor. Clocking at 200 MHz, the VLIW Vector Processor 74 runs at 12 Gops (12 billion operations per second). Instructions are tuned for image processing functions such as warping, artistic brushing, complex synthetic illumination, color transforms, image filtering, and compositing. These are accelerated by two orders of magnitude over desktop computers.

Turning now to FIG. 4, the auto exposure setting information 101 is utilised in conjunction with the stored image 102 to process the image by utilising the ACP. The processed image is returned to the memory store for later printing out 104 on the output printer.

A number of processing steps can be undertaken in accordance with the determined light conditions. Where the auto exposure setting 1 indicates that the image was taken in a low light condition, the image pixel colours are selectively re-mapped so as to make the image colours stronger, deeper and richer.

Where the auto exposure information indicates that highlight conditions were present when the image was taken, the image colours can be processed to make them brighter and more saturated. The re-colouring of the image can be undertaken by conversion of the image to a hue-saturation-value (HSV) format and an alteration of pixel values in accordance with requirements. The pixel values can then be output converted to the required output colour format of printing.

Of course, many different re-colouring techniques may be utilised. Preferably, the techniques are clearly illustrated on the pre-requisite Artcard inserted into the reader. Alternatively, the image processing algorithms can be automatically applied and hard-wired into the camera for utilization in certain conditions.

Alternatively, the Artcard inserted could have a number of manipulations applied to the image which are specific to the auto-exposure setting. For example, clip arts containing candles etc could be inserted in a dark image and large suns inserted in bright images.

Referring now to FIGS. 5 to 8, the Artcam prints the images onto media stored in a replaceable print roll 105. In some preferred embodiments, the operation of the camera device is such that when a series of images is printed on a first surface of the print roll, the corresponding backing surface has a ready made postcard which can be immediately dispatched at the nearest post office box within the jurisdiction. In this way, personalized postcards can be created.

It would be evident that when utilising the postcard system as illustrated FIG. 5 only predetermined image sizes are possible as the synchronization between the backing postcard portion and the front image must be maintained. This can be achieved by utilising the memory portions of the authentication chip stored within the print roll 105 to store details of the length of each postcard backing format sheet. This can be achieved by either having each postcard the same size or by storing each size within the print rolls on-board print chip memory.

In an alternative embodiment, there is provided a modified form of print roll which can be constructed mostly from injection moulded plastic pieces suitably snapped fitted together. The modified form of print roll has a high ink storage capacity in addition to a somewhat simplified construction. The print media onto which the image is to be printed is wrapped around a plastic sleeve former for simplified construction. The ink media reservoir has a series of air vents which are constructed so as to minimise the opportunities for the ink flow out of the air vents. Further, a rubber seal is provided for the ink outlet holes with the rubber seal being pierced on insertion of the print roll into a camera system. Further, the print roll includes a print media ejection slot and the ejection slot includes a surrounding moulded surface which provides and assists in the accurate positioning of the print media ejection slot relative to the printhead within the printing or camera system.

Turning to FIG. 6 there is illustrated a single point roll unit 105 in an assembled form with a partial cutaway showing internal portions of the print roll. FIG. 7 and FIG. 8 illustrate left and right side exploded perspective views respectively. The print roll 105 is constructed around the internal core portion 106 which contains an internal ink supply. Outside of the core portion 106 is provided a former 107 around which is wrapped a paper or film supply 108. Around the paper supply it is constructed two cover pieces 109, 110 which snap together around the print roll so as to form a covering unit as illustrated in FIG. 6. The bottom cover piece 110 includes a slot 111 through which the output of the print media 112 for interconnection with the camera system.

Two pinch rollers 113, 114 are provided to pinch the paper against a drive pinch roller 115 so they together provide for a decurling of the paper around the roller 115. The decurling acts to negate the strong curl that may be imparted to the paper from being stored in the form of print roll for an extended period of time. The rollers 113, 114 are provided to form a snap fit with end portions of the cover base portion 110 and the roller 115 which includes a cogged end 116 for driving, snap fits into the upper cover piece 109 so as to pinch the paper 112 firmly between.

The cover pieces 109, 110 includes an end protuberance or lip 117. The end lip 117 is provided for accurately alignment of the exit hole of the paper with a corresponding printing heat platen structure within the camera system. In this way, accurate alignment or positioning of the exiting paper relative to an adjacent printhead is provided for full guidance of the paper to the printhead.

It would be appreciated by a person skilled in the art that numerous variations and/or modifications may be made to the present invention as shown in the specific embodiment without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention as broadly described. The present embodiment is, therefore, to be considered in all respects to be illustrative and not restrictive.

The present invention is best utilized in the Artcam device, the details of which are set out in the following paragraphs.

Ink Jet Technologies

The embodiments of the invention use an ink jet printer type device. Of course many different devices could be used. However presently popular ink jet printing technologies are unlikely to be suitable.

The most significant problem with thermal inkjet is power consumption. This is approximately 100 times that required for high speed, and stems from the energy-inefficient means of drop ejection. This involves the rapid boiling of water to produce a vapor bubble which expels the ink. Water has a very high heat capacity, and must be superheated in thermal inkjet applications. This leads to an efficiency of around 0.02%, from electricity input to drop momentum (and increased surface area) out.

The most significant problem with piezoelectric inkjet is size and cost. Piezoelectric crystals have a very small deflection at reasonable drive voltages, and therefore require a large area for each nozzle. Also, each piezoelectric actuator must be connected to its drive circuit on a separate substrate. This is not a significant problem at the current limit of around 300 nozzles per print head, but is a major impediment to the fabrication of pagewide print heads with 19,200 nozzles.

Ideally, the inkjet technologies used meet the stringent requirements of in-camera digital color printing and other high quality, high speed, low cost printing applications. To meet the requirements of digital photography, new inkjet technologies have been created. The target features include:

low power (less than 10 Watts)

high resolution capability (1,600 dpi or more)

photographic quality output

low manufacturing cost

small size (pagewidth times minimum cross section)

high speed (<2 seconds per page).

All of these features can be met or exceeded by the inkjet systems described below with differing levels of difficulty. 45 different inkjet technologies have been developed by the Assignee to give a wide range of choices for high volume manufacture. These technologies form part of separate applications assigned to the present Assignee as set out in the table below.

The inkjet designs shown here are suitable for a wide range of digital printing systems, from battery powered one-time use digital cameras, through to desktop and network printers, and through to commercial printing systems

For ease of manufacture using standard process equipment, the print head is designed to be a monolithic 0.5 micron CMOS chip with MEMS post processing. For color photographic applications, the print head is 100 mm long, with a width which depends upon the inkjet type. The smallest print head designed is IJ38, which is 0.35 mm wide, giving a chip area of 35 square mm. The print heads each contain 19,200 nozzles plus data and control circuitry.

Ink is supplied to the back of the print head by injection molded plastic ink channels. The molding requires 50 micron features, which can be created using a lithographically micromachined insert in a standard injection molding tool. Ink flows through holes etched through the wafer to the nozzle chambers fabricated on the front surface of the wafer. The print head is connected to the camera circuitry by tape automated bonding.

CROSS-REFERENCED APPLICATIONS

The following table is a guide to cross-referenced patent applications filed concurrently herewith and discussed hereinafter with the reference being utilized in subsequent tables when referring to a particular case:

Docket
No.ReferenceTitle
IJ01US6,227,652Radiant Plunger Ink Jet Printer
IJ02US6,213,588Electrostatic Ink Jet Printer
IJ03US6,213,589Planar Thermoelastic Bend Actuator Ink Jet
IJ04US6,231,163Stacked Electrostatic Ink Jet Printer
IJ05US6,247,795Reverse Spring Lever Ink Jet Printer
IJ06US6,394,581Paddle Type Ink Jet Printer
IJ07US6,244,691Permanent Magnet Electromagnetic Ink Jet Printer
IJ08US6,257,704Planar Swing Grill Electromagnetic Ink Jet Printer
IJ09US6,416,168Pump Action Refill Ink Jet Printer
IJ10US6,220,694Pulsed Magnetic Field Ink Jet Printer
IJ11US6,257,705Two Plate Reverse Firing Electromagnetic Ink Jet
Printer
IJ12US6,247,794Linear Stepper Actuator Ink Jet Printer
IJ13US6,234,610Gear Driven Shutter Ink Jet Printer
IJ14US6,247,793Tapered Magnetic Pole Electromagnetic Ink Jet
Printer
IJ15US6,264,306Linear Spring Electromagnetic Grill Ink Jet Printer
IJ16US6,241,342Lorenz Diaphragm Electromagnetic Ink Jet Printer
IJ17US6,247,792PTFE Surface Shooting Shuttered Oscillating
Pressure Ink Jet Printer
IJ18US6,264,307Buckle Grip Oscillating Pressure Ink Jet Printer
IJ19US6,254,220Shutter Based Ink Jet Printer
IJ20US6,234,611Curling Calyx Thermoelastic Ink Jet Printer
IJ21US6,302,528Thermal Actuated Ink Jet Printer
IJ22US6,283,582Iris Motion Ink Jet Printer
IJ23US6,239,821Direct Firing Thermal Bend Actuator Ink Jet Printer
IJ24US6,338,547Conductive PTFE Ben Activator Vented Ink Jet
Printer
IJ25US6,247,796Magnetostrictive Ink Jet Printer
IJ26US6,557,977Shape Memory Alloy Ink Jet Printer
IJ27US6,390,603Buckle Plate Ink Jet Printer
IJ28US6,362,843Thermal Elastic Rotary Impeller Ink Jet Printer
IJ29US6,293,653Thermoelastic Bend Actuator Ink Jet Printer
IJ30US6,312,107Thermoelastic Bend Actuator Using PTFE and
Corrugated Copper Ink Jet Printer
IJ31US6,227,653Bend Actuator Direct Ink Supply Ink Jet Printer
IJ32US6,234,609A High Young's Modulus Thermoelastic Ink Jet
Printer
IJ33US6,238,040Thermally actuated slotted chamber wall ink jet
printer
IJ34US6,188,415Ink Jet Printer having a thermal actuator comprising
an external coiled spring
IJ35US6,227,654Trough Container Ink Jet Printer
IJ36US6,209,989Dual Chamber Single Vertical Actuator Ink Jet
IJ37US6,247,791Dual Nozzle Single Horizontal Fulcrum Actuator
Ink Jet
IJ38US6,336,710Dual Nozzle Single Horizontal Actuator Ink Jet
IJ39US6,217,153A single bend actuator cupped paddle ink jet
printing device
IJ40US6,416,167A thermally actuated ink jet printer having a series
of thermal actuator units
IJ41US6,243,113A thermally actuated ink jet printer including a
tapered heater element
IJ42US6,283,581Radial Back-Curling Thermoelastic Ink Jet
IJ43US6,247,790Inverted Radial Back-Curling Thermoelastic Ink Jet
IJ44US6,260,953Surface bend actuator vented ink supply ink jet
printer
IJ45US6,267,469Coil Acutuated Magnetic Plate Ink Jet Printer

Tables of Drop-on-Demand Inkjets

Eleven important characteristics of the fundamental operation of individual inkjet nozzles have been identified. These characteristics are largely orthogonal, and so can be elucidated as an eleven dimensional matrix. Most of the eleven axes of this matrix include entries developed by the present assignee.

The following tables form the axes of an eleven dimensional table of inkjet types.

Actuator mechanism (18 types)

Basic operation mode (7 types)

Auxiliary mechanism (8 types)

Actuator amplification or modification method (17 types)

Actuator motion (19 types)

Nozzle refill method (4 types)

Method of restricting back-flow through inlet (10 types)

Nozzle clearing method (9 types)

Nozzle plate construction (9 types)

Drop ejection direction (5 types)

Ink type (7 types)

The complete eleven dimensional table represented by these axes contains 36.9 billion possible configurations of inkjet nozzle. While not all of the possible combinations result in a viable inkjet technology, many million configurations are viable. It is clearly impractical to elucidate all of the possible configurations. Instead, certain inkjet types have been investigated in detail. These are designated IJ01 to IJ45 above.

Other inkjet configurations can readily be derived from these 45 examples by substituting alternative configurations along one or more of the 11 axes. Most of the IJ01 to IJ45 examples can be made into inkjet print heads with characteristics superior to any currently available inkjet technology.

Where there are prior art examples known to the inventor, one or more of these examples are listed in the examples column of the tables below. The IJ01 to IJ45 series are also listed in the examples column. In some cases, a printer may be listed more than once in a table, where it shares characteristics with more than one entry.

Suitable applications include: Home printers, Office network printers, Short run digital printers, Commercial print systems, Fabric printers, Pocket printers, Internet WWW printers, Video printers, Medical imaging, Wide format printers, Notebook PC printers, Fax machines, Industrial printing systems, Photocopiers, Photographic minilabs etc.

The information associated with the aforementioned 11 dimensional matrix are set out in the following tables.

ACTUATOR MECHANISM (APPLIED ONLY TO SELECTED INK DROPS)
Actuator MechanismDescriptionAdvantagesDisadvantagesExamples
Thermal bubbleAn electrothermal heater heats the ink toLarge force generatedHigh powerCanon Bubblejet 1979
above boiling point, transferringSimple constructionInk carrier limited to waterEndo et al GB patent
significant heat to the aqueous ink. ANo moving partsLow efficiency2,007,162
bubble nucleates and quickly forms,Fast operationHigh temperatures requiredXerox heater-in-pit 1990
expelling the ink.Small chip area required forHigh mechanical stressHawkins et al U.S. Pat. No.
The efficiency of the process is low, withactuatorUnusual materials required4,899,181
typically less than 0.05% of the electricalLarge drive transistorsHewlett-Packard TIJ 1982
energy being transformed into kineticCavitation causes actuator failureVaught et al U.S. Pat. No.
energy of the drop.Kogation reduces bubble formation4,490,728
Large print heads are difficult to fabricate
PiezoelectricA piezoelectric crystal such as leadLow power consumptionVery large area required for actuatorKyser et al U.S. Pat. No. 3,946,398
lanthanum zirconate (PZT) is electricallyMany ink types can be usedDifficult to integrate with electronicsZoltan U.S. Pat. No. 3,683,212
activated, and either expands, shears, orFast operationHigh voltage drive transistors required1973 Stemme U.S. Pat. No.
bends to apply pressure to the ink,High efficiencyFull pagewidth print heads impractical due to3,747,120
ejecting drops.actuator sizeEpson Stylus
Requires electrical poling in high fieldTektronix
strengths during manufactureIJ04
Electro-strictiveAn electric field is used to activateLow power consumptionLow maximum strain (approx. 0.01%)Seiko Epson, Usui et all JP
electrostriction in relaxor materials suchMany ink types can be usedLarge area required for actuator due to low253401/96
as lead lanthanum zirconate titanateLow thermal expansionstrainIJ04
(PLZT) or lead magnesium niobateElectric field strength requiredResponse speed is marginal (~10 μs)
(PMN).(approx. 3.5 V/μm) can beHigh voltage drive transistors required
generated without difficultyFull pagewidth print heads impractical due to actuator size
Does not require electrical poling
FerroelectricAn electric field is used to induce aLow power consumptionDifficult to integrate with electronicsIJ04
phase transition between theMany ink types can be usedUnusual materials such as PLZSnT are
antiferroelectric (AFE) and ferroelectricFast operation (<1 μs)required
(FE) phase. Perovskite materials such asRelatively high longitudinal strainActuators require a large area
tin modified lead lanthanum zirconateHigh efficiency
titanate (PLZSnT) exhibit large strains ofElectric field strength of around 3 V/μm
up to 1% associated with the AFE to FEcan be readily provided
phase transition.
ElectrostaticConductive plates are separated by aLow power consumptionDifficult to operate electrostatic devices in anIJ02, IJ04
platescompressible or fluid dielectric (usuallyMany ink types can be usedaqueous environment
air). Upon application of a voltage, theFast operationThe electrostatic actuator will normally need
plates attract each other and displace ink,to be separated from the ink
causing drop ejection. The conductiveVery large area required to achieve high
plates may be in a comb or honeycombforces
structure, or stacked to increase theHigh voltage drive transistors may be required
surface area and therefore the force.Full pagewidth print heads are not competitive
due to actuator size
ElectrostaticA strong electric field is applied to theLow current consumptionHigh voltage required1989 Saito et al, U.S. Pat. No.
pull on inkink, whereupon electrostatic attractionLow temperatureMay be damaged by sparks due to air4,799,068
accelerates the ink towards the printbreakdown1989 Miura et al, U.S. Pat. No.
medium.Required field strength increases as the drop4,810,954
size decreasesTone-jet
High voltage drive transistors required
Electrostatic field attracts dust
PermanentAn electromagnet directly attracts aLow power consumptionComplex fabricationIJ07, IJ10
magnet electro-permanent magnet, displacing ink andMany ink types can be usedPermanent magnetic material such as
magneticcausing drop ejection. Rare earthFast operationNeodymium Iron Boron (NdFeB) required.
magnets with a field strength around 1High efficiencyHigh local currents required
Tesla can be used. Examples are:Easy extension from singleCopper metalization should be used for long
Samarium Cobalt (SaCo) and magneticnozzles to pagewidth printelectromigration lifetime and low
materials in the neodymium iron boronheadsresistivity
family (NdFeB, NdDyFeBNb,Pigmented inks are usually infeasible
NdDyFeB, etc)Operating temperature limited to the Curie
temperature (around 540 K)
Soft magneticA solenoid induced a magnetic field in aLow power consumptionComplex fabricationIJ01, IJ05, IJ08, IJ10
core electro-soft magnetic core or yoke fabricatedMany ink types can be usedMaterials not usually present in a CMOS fabIJ12, IJ14, IJ15, IJ17
magneticfrom a ferrous material such asFast operationsuch as NiFe, CoNiFe, or CoFe are
electroplated iron alloys such as CoNiFeHigh efficiencyrequired
[1], CoFe, or NiFe alloys. Typically, theEasy extension from singleHigh local currents required
soft magnetic material is in two parts,nozzles to pagewidth printCopper metalization should be used for long
which are normally held apart by aheadselectromigration lifetime and low
spring. When the solenoid is actuated,resistivity
the two parts attract, displacing the ink.Electroplating is required
High saturation flux density is required (2.0-2.1
T is achievable with CoNiFe [1])
MagneticThe Lorenz force acting on a currentLow power consumptionForce acts as a twisting motionIJ06, IJ11, IJ13, IJ16
Lorenz forcecarrying wire in a magnetic field isMany ink types can be usedTypically, only a quarter of the solenoid
utilized.Fast operationlength provides force in a useful direction
This allows the magnetic field to beHigh efficiencyHigh local currents required
supplied externally to the print head, forEasy extension from singleCopper metalization should be used for long
example with rare earth permanentnozzles to pagewidth printelectromigration lifetime and low
magnets.headsresistivity
Only the current carrying wire need bePigmented inks are usually infeasible
fabricated on the print-head, simplifying
materials requirements.
Magneto-The actuator uses the giantMany ink types can be usedForce acts as a twisting motionFischenbeck, U.S. Pat. No.
strictionmagnetostrictive effect of materials suchFast operationUnusual materials such as Terfenol-D are4,032,929
as Terfenol-D (an alloy of terbium,Easy extension from singlerequiredIJ25
dysprosium and iron developed at thenozzles to pagewidth printHigh local currents required
Naval Ordnance Laboratory, hence Ter-headsCopper metalization should be used for long
Fe-NOL). For best efficiency, theHigh force is availableelectromigration lifetime and low
actuator should be pre-stressed toresistivity
approx. 8 MPa.Pre-stressing may be required
Surface tensionInk under positive pressure is held in aLow power consumptionRequires supplementary force to effect dropSilverbrook, EP 0771 658
reductionnozzle by surface tension. The surfaceSimple constructionseparationA2 and related patent
tension of the ink is reduced below theNo unusual materials required inRequires special ink surfactantsapplications
bubble threshold, causing the ink tofabricationSpeed may be limited by surfactant properties
egress from the nozzle.High efficiency
Easy extension from single
nozzles to pagewidth print
heads
ViscosityThe ink viscosity is locally reduced toSimple constructionRequires supplementary force to effect dropSilverbrook, EP 0771 658
reductionselect which drops are to be ejected. ANo unusual materials required inseparationA2 and related patent
viscosity reduction can be achievedfabricationRequires special ink viscosity propertiesapplications
electrothermally with most inks, butEasy extension from singleHigh speed is difficult to achieve
special inks can be engineered for anozzles to pagewidth printRequires oscillating ink pressure
100:1 viscosity reduction.headsA high temperature difference (typically 80
degrees) is required
AcousticAn acoustic wave is generated andCan operate without a nozzleComplex drive circuitry1993 Hadimioglu et al,
focussed upon the drop ejection region.plateComplex fabricationEUP 550,192
Low efficiency1993 Elrod et al, EUP
Poor control of drop position572,220
Poor control of drop volume
ThermoelasticAn actuator which relies uponLow power consumptionEfficient aqueous operation requires a thermalIJ03, IJ09, IJ17, IJ18
bend actuatordifferential thermal expansion uponMany ink types can be usedinsulator on the hot sideIJ19, IJ20, IJ21, IJ22
Joule heating is used.Simple planar fabricationCorrosion prevention can be difficultIJ23, IJ24, IJ27, IJ28
Small chip area required for eachPigmented inks may be infeasible, as pigmentIJ29, IJ30, IJ31, IJ32
actuatorparticles may jam the bend actuatorIJ33, IJ34, IJ35, IJ36
Fast operationIJ37, IJ38, IJ39, IJ40
High efficiencyIJ41
CMOS compatible voltages and
currents
Standard MEMS processes can be
used
Easy extension from single
nozzles to pagewidth print
heads
High CTEA material with a very high coefficient ofHigh force can be generatedRequires special material (e.g. PTFE)IJ09, IJ17, IJ18, IJ20
thermoelasticthermal expansion (CTE) such asPTFE is a candidate for lowRequires a PTFE deposition process, which isIJ21, IJ22, IJ23, IJ24
actuatorpolytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is used.dielectric constant insulation innot yet standard in ULSI fabsIJ27, IJ28, IJ29, IJ30
As high CTE materials are usually non-ULSIPTFE deposition cannot be followed with highIJ31, IJ42, IJ43, IJ44
conductive, a heater fabricated from aVery low power consumptiontemperature (above 350° C.) processing
conductive material is incorporated. A 50 μmMany ink types can be usedPigmented inks may be infeasible, as pigment
long PTFE bend actuator withSimple planar fabricationparticles may jam the bend actuator
polysilicon heater and 15 mW powerSmall chip area required for each
input can provide 180 μN force and 10 μmactuator
deflection. Actuator motions include:Fast operation
1) BendHigh efficiency
2) PushCMOS compatible voltages and
3) Bucklecurrents
4) RotateEasy extension from single
nozzles to pagewidth print
heads
ConductiveA polymer with a high coefficient ofHigh force can be generatedRequires special materials development (HighIJ24
polymerthermal expansion (such as PTFE) isVery low power consumptionCTE conductive polymer)
thermoelasticdoped with conducting substances toMany ink types can be usedRequires a PTFE deposition process, which is
actuatorincrease its conductivity to about 3Simple planar fabricationnot yet standard in ULSI fabs
orders of magnitude below that ofSmall chip area required for eachPTFE deposition cannot be followed with high
copper. The conducting polymer expandsactuatortemperature (above 350° C.) processing
when resistively heated.Fast operationEvaporation and CVD deposition techniques
Examples of conducting dopants include:High efficiencycannot be used
1) Carbon nanotubesCMOS compatible voltages andPigmented inks may be infeasible, as pigment
2) Metal fiberscurrentsparticles may jam the bend actuator
3) Conductive polymers such as dopedEasy extension from single
polythiophenenozzles to pagewidth print
4) Carbon granulesheads
Shape memoryA shape memory alloy such as TiNi (alsoHigh force is available (stresses ofFatigue limits maximum number of cyclesIJ26
alloyknown as Nitinol —Nickel Titanium alloyhundreds of MPa)Low strain (1%) is required to extend fatigue
developed at the Naval OrdnanceLarge strain is available (moreresistance
Laboratory) is thermally switchedthan 3%)Cycle rate limited by heat removal
between its weak martensitic state and itsHigh corrosion resistanceRequires unusual materials (TiNi)
high stiffness austenic state. The shape ofSimple constructionThe latent heat of transformation must be
the actuator in its martensitic state isEasy extension from singleprovided
deformed relative to the austenic shape.nozzles to pagewidth printHigh current operation
The shape change causes ejection of aheadsRequires pre-stressing to distort the
drop.Low voltage operationmartensitic state
Linear MagneticLinear magnetic actuators include theLinear Magnetic actuators can beRequires unusual semiconductor materialsIJ12
ActuatorLinear Induction Actuator (LIA), Linearconstructed with high thrust,such as soft magnetic alloys (e.g. CoNiFe
Permanent Magnet Synchronouslong travel, and high efficiency[1])
Actuator (LPMSA), Linear Reluctanceusing planar semiconductorSome varieties also require permanent
Synchronous Actuator (LRSA), Linearfabrication techniquesmagnetic materials such as Neodymium
Switched Reluctance Actuator (LSRA),Long actuator travel is availableiron boron (NdFeB)
and the Linear Stepper Actuator (LSA).Medium force is availableRequires complex multi-phase drive circuitry
Low voltage operationHigh current operation

BASIC OPERATION MODE
Operational
modeDescriptionAdvantages
Actuator directlyThis is the simplest mode of operation:Simple operation
pushes inkthe actuator directly supplies sufficientNo external fields required
kinetic energy to expel the drop. TheSatellite drops can be avoided if
drop must have a sufficient velocity todrop velocity is less than 4 m/s
overcome the surface tension.Can be efficient, depending upon
the actuator used
ProximityThe drops to be printed are selected byVery simple print head fabrication
some manner (e.g. thermally inducedcan be used
surface tension reduction of pressurizedThe drop selection means does
ink). Selected drops are separated fromnot need to provide the energy
the ink in the nozzle by contact with therequired to separate the drop
print medium or a transfer roller.from the nozzle
ElectrostaticThe drops to be printed are selected byVery simple print head fabrication
pull on inksome manner (e.g. thermally inducedcan be used
surface tension reduction of pressurizedThe drop selection means does
ink). Selected drops are separated fromnot need to provide the energy
the ink in the nozzle by a strong electricrequired to separate the drop
field.from the nozzle
Magnetic pull onThe drops to be printed are selected byVery simple print head fabrication
inksome manner (e.g. thermally inducedcan be used
surface tension reduction of pressurizedThe drop selection means does
ink). Selected drops are separated fromnot need to provide the energy
the ink in the nozzle by a strongrequired to separate the drop
magnetic field acting on the magneticfrom the nozzle
ink.
ShutterThe actuator moves a shutter to block inkHigh speed (>50 KHz) operation
flow to the nozzle. The ink pressure iscan be achieved due to reduced
pulsed at a multiple of the drop ejectionrefill time
frequency.Drop timing can be very accurate
The actuator energy can be very
low
Shuttered grillThe actuator moves a shutter to block inkActuators with small travel can be
flow through a grill to the nozzle. Theused
shutter movement need only be equal toActuators with small force can be
the width of the grill holes.used
High speed (>50 KHz) operation
can be achieved
Pulsed magneticA pulsed magnetic field attracts an ‘inkExtremely low energy operation
pull on inkpusher’ at the drop ejection frequency.is possible
pusherAn actuator controls a catch, whichNo heat dissipation problems
prevents the ink pusher from moving
when a drop is not to be ejected.
Operational
modeDisadvantagesExamples
Actuator directlyDrop repetition rate is usually limited to lessThermal inkjet
pushes inkthan 10 KHz. However, this is notPiezoelectric inkjet
fundamental to the method, but is related toIJ01, IJ02, IJ03, IJ04
the refill method normally usedIJ05, IJ06, IJ07, IJ09
All of the drop kinetic energy must beIJ11, IJ12, IJ14, IJ16
provided by the actuatorIJ20, IJ22, IJ23, IJ24
Satellite drops usually form if drop velocity isIJ25, IJ26, IJ27, IJ28
greater than 4.5 m/sIJ29, IJ30, IJ31, IJ32
IJ33, IJ34, IJ35, IJ36
IJ37, IJ38, IJ39, IJ40
IJ41, IJ42, IJ43, IJ44
ProximityRequires close proximity between the printSilverbrook, EP 0771 658
head and the print media or transfer rollerA2 and related patent
May require two print heads printing alternateapplications
rows of the image
Monolithic color print heads are difficult
ElectrostaticRequires very high electrostatic fieldSilverbrook, EP 0771 658
pull on inkElectrostatic field for small nozzle sizes isA2 and related patent
above air breakdownapplications
Electrostatic field may attract dustTone-Jet
Magnetic pull onRequires magnetic inkSilverbrook, EP 0771 658
inkInk colors other than black are difficultA2 and related patent
Requires very high magnetic fieldsapplications
ShutterMoving parts are requiredIJ13, IJ17, IJ21
Requires ink pressure modulator
Friction and wear must be considered
Stiction is possible
Shuttered grillMoving parts are requiredIJ08, IJ15, IJ18, IJ19
Requires ink pressure modulator
Friction and wear must be considered
Stiction is possible
Pulsed magneticRequires an external pulsed magnetic fieldIJ10
pull on inkRequires special materials for both the
pusheractuator and the ink pusher
Complex construction

AUXILIARY MECHANISM (APPLIED TO ALL NOZZLES)
Auxiliary
MechanismDescriptionAdvantages
NoneThe actuator directly fires the ink drop,Simplicity of construction
and there is no external field or otherSimplicity of operation
mechanism required.Small physical size
Oscillating inkThe ink pressure oscillates, providingOscillating ink pressure can
pressuremuch of the drop ejection energy. Theprovide a refill pulse, allowing
(includingactuator selects which drops are to behigher operating speed
acousticfired by selectively blocking or enablingThe actuators may operate with
stimulation)nozzles. The ink pressure oscillation maymuch lower energy
be achieved by vibrating the print head,Acoustic lenses can be used to
or preferably by an actuator in the inkfocus the sound on the nozzles
supply.
Media proximityThe print head is placed in closeLow power
proximity to the print medium. SelectedHigh accuracy
drops protrude from the print headSimple print head construction
further than unselected drops, and
contact the print medium. The drop soaks
into the medium fast enough to cause
drop separation.
Transfer rollerDrops are printed to a transfer rollerHigh accuracy
instead of straight to the print medium. AWide range of print substrates can
transfer roller can also be used forbe used
proximity drop separation.Ink can be dried on the transfer
roller
ElectrostaticAn electric field is used to accelerateLow power
selected drops towards the print medium.Simple print head construction
Direct magneticA magnetic field is used to accelerateLow power
fieldselected drops of magnetic ink towardsSimple print head construction
the print medium.
Cross magneticThe print head is placed in a constantDoes not require magnetic
fieldmagnetic field. The Lorenz force in amaterials to be integrated in
current carrying wire is used to move thethe print head manufacturing
actuator.process
Pulsed magneticA pulsed magnetic field is used toVery low power operation is
fieldcyclically attract a paddle, which pushespossible
on the ink. A small actuator moves aSmall print head size
catch, which selectively prevents the
paddle from moving.
Auxiliary
MechanismDisadvantagesExamples
NoneDrop ejection energy must be supplied byMost inkjets, including
individual nozzle actuatorpiezoelectric and
thermal bubble.
IJ01-IJ07, IJ09, IJ11
IJ12, IJ14, IJ20, IJ22
IJ23-IJ45
Oscillating inkRequires external ink pressure oscillatorSilverbrook, EP 0771 658
pressureInk pressure phase and amplitude must beA2 and related patent
(includingcarefully controlledapplications
acousticAcoustic reflections in the ink chamber mustIJ08, IJ13, IJ15, IJ17
stimulation)be designed forIJ18, IJ19, IJ21
Media proximityPrecision assembly requiredSilverbrook, EP 0771 658
Paper fibers may cause problemsA2 and related patent
Cannot print on rough substratesapplications
Transfer rollerBulkySilverbrook, EP 0771 658
ExpensiveA2 and related patent
Complex constructionapplications
Tektronix hot melt
piezoelectric inkjet
Any of the IJ series
ElectrostaticField strength required for separation of smallSilverbrook, EP 0771 658
drops is near or above air breakdownA2 and related patent
applications
Tone-Jet
Direct magneticRequires magnetic inkSilverbrook, EP 0771 658
fieldRequires strong magnetic fieldA2 and related patent
applications
Cross magneticRequires external magnetIJ06, IJ16
fieldCurrent densities may be high, resulting in
electromigration problems
Pulsed magneticComplex print head constructionIJ10
fieldMagnetic materials required in print head

ACTUATOR AMPLIFICATION OR MODIFICATION METHOD
Actuator
amplificationDescriptionAdvantages
NoneNo actuator mechanical amplification isOperational simplicity
used. The actuator directly drives the
drop ejection process.
DifferentialAn actuator material expands more onProvides greater travel in a
expansion bendone side than on the other. Thereduced print head area
actuatorexpansion may be thermal, piezoelectric,The bend actuator converts a high
magnetostrictive, or other mechanism.force low travel actuator
mechanism to high travel,
lower force mechanism.
Transient bendA trilayer bend actuator where the twoVery good temperature stability
actuatoroutside layers are identical. This cancelsHigh speed, as a new drop can be
bend due to ambient temperature andfired before heat dissipates
residual stress. The actuator onlyCancels residual stress of
responds to transient heating of one sideformation
or the other.
Actuator stackA series of thin actuators are stacked.Increased travel
This can be appropriate where actuatorsReduced drive voltage
require high electric field strength, such
as electrostatic and piezoelectric
actuators.
MultipleMultiple smaller actuators are usedIncreases the force available from
actuatorssimultaneously to move the ink. Eachan actuator
actuator need provide only a portion ofMultiple actuators can be
the force required.positioned to control ink flow
accurately
Linear SpringA linear spring is used to transform aMatches low travel actuator with
motion with small travel and high forcehigher travel requirements
into a longer travel, lower force motion.Non-contact method of motion
transformation
Reverse springThe actuator loads a spring. When theBetter coupling to the ink
actuator is turned off, the spring releases.
This can reverse the force/distance curve
of the actuator to make it compatible
with the force/time requirements of the
drop ejection.
Coiled actuatorA bend actuator is coiled to provideIncreases travel
greater travel in a reduced chip area.Reduces chip area
Planar implementations are
relatively easy to fabricate.
Flexure bendA bend actuator has a small region nearSimple means of increasing travel
actuatorthe fixture point, which flexes muchof a bend actuator
more readily than the remainder of the
actuator. The actuator flexing is
effectively converted from an even
coiling to an angular bend, resulting in
greater travel of the actuator tip.
GearsGears can be used to increase travel atLow force, low travel actuators
the expense of duration. Circular gears,can be used
rack and pinion, ratchets, and otherCan be fabricated using standard
gearing methods can be used.surface MEMS processes
CatchThe actuator controls a small catch. TheVery low actuator energy
catch either enables or disablesVery small actuator size
movement of an ink pusher that is
controlled in a bulk manner.
Buckle plateA buckle plate can be used to change aVery fast movement achievable
slow actuator into a fast motion. It can
also convert a high force, low travel
actuator into a high travel, medium force
motion.
TaperedA tapered magnetic pole can increaseLinearizes the magnetic
magnetic poletravel at the expense of force.force/distance curve
LeverA lever and fulcrum is used to transformMatches low travel actuator with
a motion with small travel and high forcehigher travel requirements
into a motion with longer travel andFulcrum area has no linear
lower force. The lever can also reversemovement, and can be used for
the direction of travel.a fluid seal
Rotary impellerThe actuator is connected to a rotaryHigh mechanical advantage
impeller. A small angular deflection ofThe ratio of force to travel of the
the actuator results in a rotation of theactuator can be matched to the
impeller vanes, which push the inknozzle requirements by
against stationary vanes and out of thevarying the number of impeller
nozzle.vanes
Acoustic lensA refractive or diffractive (e.g. zoneNo moving parts
plate) acoustic lens is used to concentrate
sound waves.
SharpA sharp point is used to concentrate anSimple construction
conductiveelectrostatic field.
point
Actuator
amplificationDisadvantagesExamples
NoneMany actuator mechanisms have insufficientThermal Bubble Inkjet
travel, or insufficient force, to efficientlyIJ01, IJ02, IJ06, IJ07
drive the drop ejection processIJ16, IJ25, IJ26
DifferentialHigh stresses are involvedPiezoelectric
expansion bendCare must be taken that the materials do notIJ03, IJ09, IJ17-IJ24
actuatordelaminateIJ27, IJ29-IJ39, IJ42,
Residual bend resulting from high temperatureIJ43, IJ44
or high stress during formation
Transient bendHigh stresses are involvedIJ40, IJ41
actuatorCare must be taken that the materials do not
delaminate
Actuator stackIncreased fabrication complexitySome piezoelectric ink jets
Increased possibility of short circuits due toIJ04
pinholes
MultipleActuator forces may not add linearly, reducingIJ12, IJ13, IJ18, IJ20
actuatorsefficiencyIJ22, IJ28, IJ42, IJ43
Linear SpringRequires print head area for the springIJ15
Reverse springFabrication complexityIJ05, IJ11
High stress in the spring
Coiled actuatorGenerally restricted to planar implementationsIJ17, IJ21, IJ34, IJ35
due to extreme fabrication difficulty in
other orientations.
Flexure bendCare must be taken not to exceed the elasticIJ10, IJ19, IJ33
actuatorlimit in the flexure area
Stress distribution is very uneven
Difficult to accurately model with finite
element analysis
GearsMoving parts are requiredIJ13
Several actuator cycles are required
More complex drive electronics
Complex construction
Friction, friction, and wear are possible
CatchComplex constructionIJ10
Requires external force
Unsuitable for pigmented inks
Buckle plateMust stay within elastic limits of the materialsS. Hirata et al, “An Ink-jet
for long device lifeHead ...”, Proc. IEEE
High stresses involvedMEMS, February 1996, pp
Generally high power requirement418-423.
IJ18, IJ27
TaperedComplex constructionIJ14
magnetic pole
LeverHigh stress around the fulcrumIJ32, IJ36, IJ37
Rotary impellerComplex constructionIJ28
Unsuitable for pigmented inks
Acoustic lensLarge area required1993 Hadimioglu et al,
Only relevant for acoustic ink jetsEUP 550,192
1993 Elrod et al, EUP
572,220
SharpDifficult to fabricate using standard VLSITone-jet
conductiveprocesses for a surface ejecting ink-jet
pointOnly relevant for electrostatic ink jets

ACTUATOR MOTION
Actuator motionDescriptionAdvantages
VolumeThe volume of the actuator changes,Simple construction in the case of
expansionpushing the ink in all directions.thermal ink jet
Linear, normalThe actuator moves in a direction normalEfficient coupling to ink drops
to chip surfaceto the print head surface. The nozzle isejected normal to the surface
typically in the line of movement.
Linear, parallelThe actuator moves parallel to the printSuitable for planar fabrication
to chip surfacehead surface. Drop ejection may still be
normal to the surface.
Membrane pushAn actuator with a high force but smallThe effective area of the actuator
area is used to push a stiff membrane thatbecomes the membrane area
is in contact with the ink.
RotaryThe actuator causes the rotation of someRotary levers may be used to
element, such a grill or impellerincrease travel
Small chip area requirements
BendThe actuator bends when energized. ThisA very small change in
may be due to differential thermaldimensions can be converted to
expansion, piezoelectric expansion,a large motion.
magnetostriction, or other form of
relative dimensional change.
SwivelThe actuator swivels around a centralAllows operation where the net
pivot. This motion is suitable where therelinear force on the paddle is
are opposite forces applied to oppositezero
sides of the paddle, e.g. Lorenz force.Small chip area requirements
StraightenThe actuator is normally bent, andCan be used with shape memory
straightens when energized.alloys where the austenic phase
is planar
Double bendThe actuator bends in one direction whenOne actuator can be used to
one element is energized, and bends thepower two nozzles.
other way when another element isReduced chip size.
energized.Not sensitive to ambient
temperature
ShearEnergizing the actuator causes a shearCan increase the effective travel
motion in the actuator material.of piezoelectric actuators
RadialThe actuator squeezes an ink reservoir,Relatively easy to fabricate single
constrictionforcing ink from a constricted nozzle.nozzles from glass tubing as
macroscopic structures
Coil/uncoilA coiled actuator uncoils or coils moreEasy to fabricate as a planar VLSI
tightly. The motion of the free end of theprocess
actuator ejects the ink.Small area required, therefore low
cost
BowThe actuator bows (or buckles) in theCan increase the speed of travel
middle when energized.Mechanically rigid
Push-PullTwo actuators control a shutter. OneThe structure is pinned at both
actuator pulls the shutter, and the otherends, so has a high out-of-
pushes it.plane rigidity
Curl inwardsA set of actuators curl inwards to reduceGood fluid flow to the region
the volume of ink that they enclose.behind the actuator increases
efficiency
Curl outwardsA set of actuators curl outwards,Relatively simple construction
pressurizing ink in a chamber
surrounding the actuators, and expelling
ink from a nozzle in the chamber.
IrisMultiple vanes enclose a volume of ink.High efficiency
These simultaneously rotate, reducingSmall chip area
the volume between the vanes.
AcousticThe actuator vibrates at a high frequency.The actuator can be physically
vibrationdistant from the ink
NoneIn various ink jet designs the actuatorNo moving parts
does not move.
Actuator motionDisadvantagesExamples
VolumeHigh energy is typically required to achieveHewlett-Packard Thermal
expansionvolume expansion. This leads to thermalInkjet
stress, cavitation, and kogation in thermalCanon Bubblejet
ink jet implementations
Linear, normalHigh fabrication complexity may be requiredIJ01, IJ02, IJ04, IJ07
to chip surfaceto achieve perpendicular motionIJ11, IJ14
Linear, parallelFabrication complexityIJ12, IJ13, IJ15, IJ33,
to chip surfaceFrictionIJ34, IJ35, IJ36
Stiction
Membrane pushFabrication complexity1982 Howkins U.S. Pat. No.
Actuator size4,459,601
Difficulty of integration in a VLSI process
RotaryDevice complexityIJ05, IJ08, IJ13, IJ28
May have friction at a pivot point
BendRequires the actuator to be made from at least1970 Kyser et al U.S. Pat. No.
two distinct layers, or to have a thermal3,946,398
difference across the actuator1973 Stemme U.S. Pat. No.
3,747,120
IJ03, IJ09, IJ10, IJ19
IJ23, IJ24, IJ25, IJ29
IJ30, IJ31, IJ33, IJ34
IJ35
SwivelInefficient coupling to the ink motionIJ06
StraightenRequires careful balance of stresses to ensureIJ26, IJ32
that the quiescent bend is accurate
Double bendDifficult to make the drops ejected by bothIJ36, IJ37, IJ38
bend directions identical.
A small efficiency loss compared to
equivalent single bend actuators.
ShearNot readily applicable to other actuator1985 Fishbeck U.S. Pat. No.
mechanisms4,584,590
RadialHigh force required1970 Zoltan U.S. Pat. No.
constrictionInefficient3,683,212
Difficult to integrate with VLSI processes
Coil/uncoilDifficult to fabricate for non-planar devicesIJ17, IJ21, IJ34, IJ35
Poor out-of-plane stiffness
BowMaximum travel is constrainedIJ16, IJ18, IJ27
High force required
Push-PullNot readily suitable for inkjets which directlyIJ18
push the ink
Curl inwardsDesign complexityIJ20, IJ42
Curl outwardsRelatively large chip areaIJ43
IrisHigh fabrication complexityIJ22
Not suitable for pigmented inks
AcousticLarge area required for efficient operation at1993 Hadimioglu et al,
vibrationuseful frequenciesEUP 550,192
Acoustic coupling and crosstalk1993 Elrod et al, EUP
Complex drive circuitry572,220
Poor control of drop volume and position
NoneVarious other tradeoffs are required toSilverbrook, EP 0771 658
eliminate moving partsA2 and related patent
applications
Tone-jet

NOZZLE REFILL METHOD
Nozzle refill
methodDescriptionAdvantagesDisadvantagesExamples
Surface tensionAfter the actuator is energized, itFabrication simplicityLow speedThermal inkjet
typically returns rapidly to its normalOperational simplicitySurface tension forcePiezoelectric inkjet
position. This rapid return sucks in airrelatively small compared toIJ01-IJ07, IJ10-IJ14
through the nozzle opening. The inkactuator forceIJ16, IJ20, IJ22-IJ45
surface tension at the nozzle then exerts aLong refill time usually
small force restoring the meniscus to adominates the total
minimum area.repetition rate
ShutteredInk to the nozzle chamber is provided atHigh speedRequires common inkIJ08, IJ13, IJ15, IJ17
oscillating inka pressure that oscillates at twice theLow actuator energy, as thepressure oscillatorIJ18, IJ19, IJ21
pressuredrop ejection frequency. When a drop isactuator need only open orMay not be suitable for
to be ejected, the shutter is opened for 3close the shutter, instead ofpigmented inks
half cycles: drop ejection, actuatorejecting the ink drop
return, and refill.
Refill actuatorAfter the main actuator has ejected aHigh speed, as the nozzle isRequires two independentIJ09
drop a second (refill) actuator isactively refilledactuators per nozzle
energized. The refill actuator pushes ink
into the nozzle chamber. The refill
actuator returns slowly, to prevent its
return from emptying the chamber again.
Positive inkThe ink is held a slight positive pressure.High refill rate, therefore a highSurface spill must beSilverbrook, EP
pressureAfter the ink drop is ejected, the nozzledrop repetition rate is possibleprevented0771 658 A2 and related
chamber fills quickly as surface tensionHighly hydrophobic printpatent applications
and ink pressure both operate to refill thehead surfaces are requiredAlternative for:
nozzle.IJ01-IJ07, IJ10-IJ14
IJ16, IJ20, IJ22-IJ45

METHOD OF RESTRICTING BACK-FLOW THROUGH INLET
Inlet back-flow
restriction
methodDescriptionAdvantagesDisadvantagesExamples
Long inletThe ink inlet channel to the nozzleDesign simplicityRestricts refill rateThermal inkjet
channelchamber is made long and relativelyOperational simplicityMay result in a relativelyPiezoelectric inkjet
narrow, relying on viscous drag to reduceReduces crosstalklarge chip areaIJ42, IJ43
inlet back-flow.Only partially effective
Positive inkThe ink is under a positive pressure, soDrop selection and separationRequires a method (such as aSilverbrook, EP
pressurethat in the quiescent state some of the inkforces can be reducednozzle rim or effective0771 658 A2 and related
drop already protrudes from the nozzle.Fast refill timehydrophobizing, or both)patent applications
This reduces the pressure in the nozzleto prevent flooding of thePossible operation
chamber which is required to eject aejection surface of theof the following:
certain volume of ink. The reduction inprint head.IJ01-IJ07, IJ09-IJ12
chamber pressure results in a reductionIJ14, IJ16, IJ20, IJ22,
in ink pushed out through the inlet.IJ23-IJ34, IJ36-IJ41
IJ44
BaffleOne or more baffles are placed in theThe refill rate is not as restrictedDesign complexityHP Thermal Ink Jet
inlet ink flow. When the actuator isas the long inlet method.May increaseTektronix piezoelectric
energized, the rapid ink movementReduces crosstalkfabrication complexity (e.g.ink jet
creates eddies which restrict the flowTektronix hot melt
through the inlet. The slower refillPiezoelectric print heads).
process is unrestricted, and does not
result in eddies.
Flexible flapIn this method recently disclosed bySignificantly reduces back-flowNot applicable to mostCanon
restricts inletCanon, the expanding actuator (bubble)for edge-shooter thermal inkinkjet configurations
pushes on a flexible flap that restricts thejet devicesIncreased fabrication
inlet.complexity
Inelastic deformation of
polymer flap results in
creep over extended use
Inlet filterA filter is located between the ink inletAdditional advantage of inkRestricts refill rateIJ04, IJ12, IJ24, IJ27
and the nozzle chamber. The filter has afiltrationMay result in complexIJ29, IJ30
multitude of small holes or slots,Ink filter may be fabricated withconstruction
restricting ink flow. The filter alsono additional process steps
removes particles which may block the
nozzle.
Small inletThe ink inlet channel to the nozzleDesign simplicityRestricts refill rateIJ02, IJ37, IJ44
compared tochamber has a substantially smaller crossMay result in a relatively
nozzlesection than that of the nozzle, resultinglarge chip area
in easier ink egress out of the nozzle thanOnly partially effective
out of the inlet.
Inlet shutterA secondary actuator controls theIncreases speed of the ink-jetRequires separate refillIJ09
position of a shutter, closing off the inkprint head operationactuator and drive circuit
inlet when the main actuator is
energized.
The inlet isThe method avoids the problem of inletBack-flow problem is eliminatedRequires careful designIJ01, IJ03, 1J05, IJ06
located behindback-flow by arranging the ink-pushingto minimize the negativeIJ07, IJ10, IJ11, IJ14
the ink-pushingsurface of the actuator between the inletpressure behind the paddleIJ16, IJ22, IJ23, IJ25
surfaceand the nozzle.IJ28, IJ31, IJ32, IJ33
IJ34, IJ35, IJ36, IJ39
IJ40, IJ41
Part of theThe actuator and a wall of the inkSignificant reductions in back-Small increase inIJ07, IJ20, IJ26, IJ38
actuator moveschamber are arranged so that the motionflow can be achievedfabrication complexity
to shut off theof the actuator closes off the inlet.Compact designs possible
inlet
Nozzle actuatorIn some configurations of ink jet, there isInk back-flow problem isNone related to inkSilverbrook, EP
does not resultno expansion or movement of an actuatoreliminatedback-flow on actuation0771 658 A2 and related
in inkwhich may cause ink back-flow throughpatent applications
back-flowthe inlet.Valve-jet
Tone-jet
IJ08, IJ13, IJ15, IJ17
IJ18, IJ19, IJ21

NOZZLE CLEARING METHOD
Nozzle
Clearing
methodDescriptionAdvantagesDisadvantagesExamples
Normal nozzleAll of the nozzles are fired periodically,No added complexity on the printMay not be sufficientMost ink jet systems
firingbefore the ink has a chance to dry. Whenheadto displace dried inkIJ01-IJ07, IJ09-IJ12
not in use the nozzles are sealed (capped)IJ14, IJ16, IJ20, IJ22
against air.IJ23-IJ34, IJ36-IJ45
The nozzle firing is usually performed
during a special clearing cycle, after first
moving the print head to a cleaning
station.
Extra power toIn systems which heat the ink, but do notCan be highly effective if theRequires higher driveSilverbrook, EP
ink heaterboil it under normal situations, nozzleheater is adjacent to the nozzlevoltage for clearing0771 658 A2 and related
clearing can be achieved by over-May require largerpatent applications
powering the heater and boiling ink atdrive transistors
the nozzle.
RapidThe actuator is fired in rapid succession.Does not require extra driveEffectiveness dependsMay be used with:
succession ofIn some configurations, this may causecircuits on the print headsubstantially upon theIJ01-IJ07, IJ09-IJ11
actuator pulsesheat build-up at the nozzle which boilsCan be readily controlled andconfiguration of theIJ14, IJ16, IJ20, IJ22
the ink, clearing the nozzle. In otherinitiated by digital logicinkjet nozzleIJ23-IJ25, IJ27-IJ34
situations, it may cause sufficientIJ36-IJ45
vibrations to dislodge clogged nozzles.
Extra power toWhere an actuator is not normally drivenA simple solution whereNot suitable whereMay be used with:
ink pushingto the limit of its motion, nozzle clearingapplicablethere is a hard limitIJ03, IJ09, IJ16, IJ20
actuatormay be assisted by providing anto actuator movementIJ23, IJ24, IJ25, IJ27
enhanced drive signal to the actuator.IJ29, IJ30, IJ31, IJ32
IJ39, IJ40, IJ41, IJ42
IJ43, IJ44, IJ45
AcousticAn ultrasonic wave is applied to the inkA high nozzle clearing capabilityHigh implementationIJ08, IJ13, IJ15, IJ17
resonancechamber. This wave is of an appropriatecan be achievedcost if system does notIJ18, IJ19, IJ21
amplitude and frequency to causeMay be implemented at very lowalready include
sufficient force at the nozzle to clearcost in systems which alreadyan acoustic actuator
blockages. This is easiest to achieve ifinclude acoustic actuators
the ultrasonic wave is at a resonant
frequency of the ink cavity.
Nozzle clearingA microfabricated plate is pushed againstCan clear severely cloggedAccurate mechanicalSilverbrook, EP
platethe nozzles. The plate has a post fornozzlesalignment is required0771 658 A2 and related
every nozzle. The array of postsMoving parts are requiredpatent applications
There is risk of damage
to the nozzles
Accurate fabrication
is required
Ink pressureThe pressure of the ink is temporarilyMay be effective where otherRequires pressure pump orMay be used with
pulseincreased so that ink streams from all ofmethods cannot be usedother pressure actuatorall IJ series ink jets
the nozzles. This may be used inExpensive
conjunction with actuator energizing.Wasteful of ink
Print headA flexible ‘blade’ is wiped across theEffective for planar print headDifficult to use if printMany ink jet systems
wiperprint head surface. The blade is usuallysurfaceshead surface is non-planar
fabricated from a flexible polymer, e.g.Low costor very fragile
rubber or synthetic elastomer.Requires mechanical parts
Blade can wear out in
high volume print systems
Separate inkA separate heater is provided at theCan be effective where otherFabrication complexityCan be used with many
boiling heaternozzle although the normal drop e-ectionnozzle clearing methodsIJ series ink jets
mechanism does not require it. Thecannot be used
heaters do not require individual driveCan be implemented at no
circuits, as many nozzles can be clearedadditional cost in some inkjet
simultaneously, and no imaging isconfigurations
required.

NOZZLE PLATE CONSTRUCTION
Nozzle plate
constructionDescriptionAdvantages
ElectroformedA nozzle plate is separately fabricatedFabrication simplicity
nickelfrom electroformed nickel, and bonded
to the print head chip.
Laser ablated orIndividual nozzle holes are ablated by anNo masks required
drilled polymerintense UV laser in a nozzle plate, whichCan be quite fast
is typically a polymer such as polyimideSome control over nozzle profile
or polysulphoneis possible
Equipment required is relatively
low cost
Silicon micro-A separate nozzle plate isHigh accuracy is attainable
machinedmicromachined from single crystal
silicon, and bonded to the print head
wafer.
Glass capillariesFine glass capillaries are drawn fromNo expensive equipment required
glass tubing. This method has been usedSimple to make single nozzles
for making individual nozzles, but is
difficult to use for bulk manufacturing of
print heads with thousands of nozzles.
Monolithic,The nozzle plate is deposited as a layerHigh accuracy (<1 μm)
surface micro-using standard VLSI depositionMonolithic
machined usingtechniques. Nozzles are etched in theLow cost
VLSInozzle plate using VLSI lithography andExisting processes can be used
lithographicetching.
processes
Monolithic,The nozzle plate is a buried etch stop inHigh accuracy (<1 μm)
etched throughthe wafer. Nozzle chambers are etched inMonolithic
substratethe front of the wafer, and the wafer isLow cost
thinned from the back side. Nozzles areNo differential expansion
then etched in the etch stop layer.
No nozzle plateVarious methods have been tried toNo nozzles to become clogged
eliminate the nozzles entirely, to prevent
nozzle clogging. These include thermal
bubble mechanisms and acoustic lens
mechanisms
TroughEach drop ejector has a trough throughReduced manufacturing
which a paddle moves. There is nocomplexity
nozzle plate.Monolithic
Nozzle slitThe elimination of nozzle holes andNo nozzles to become clogged
instead ofreplacement by a slit encompassing
individualmany actuator positions reduces nozzle
nozzlesclogging, but increases crosstalk due to
ink surface waves
Nozzle plate
constructionDisadvantagesExamples
ElectroformedHigh temperatures and pressures are requiredHewlett Packard Thermal
nickelto bond nozzle plateInkjet
Minimum thickness constraints
Differential thermal expansion
Laser ablated orEach hole must be individually formedCanon Bubblejet
drilled polymerSpecial equipment required1988 Sercel et al., SPIE,
Slow where there are many thousands ofVol. 998 Excimer Beam
nozzles per print headApplications, pp. 76-83
May produce thin burrs at exit holes1993 Watanabe et al.,
U.S. Pat. No. 5,208,604
Silicon micro-Two part constructionK. Bean, IEEE
machinedHigh costTransactions on
Requires precision alignmentElectron Devices, Vol.
Nozzles may be clogged by adhesiveED-25, No. 10, 1978,
pp 1185-1195
Xerox 1990 Hawkins et
al., U.S. Pat. No. 4,899,181
Glass capillariesVery small nozzle sizes are difficult to form1970 Zoltan U.S. Pat. No.
Not suited for mass production3,683,212
Monolithic,Requires sacrificial layer under the nozzleSilverbrook, EP 0771 658
surface micro-plate to form the nozzle chamberA2 and related patent
machined usingSurface may be fragile to the touchapplications
VLSIIJ01, IJ02, IJ04, IJ11
lithographicIJ12, IJ17, IJ18, IJ20
processesIJ22, IJ24, IJ27, IJ28
IJ29, IJ30, IJ31, IJ32
IJ33, IJ34, IJ36, IJ37
IJ38, IJ39, IJ40, IJ41
IJ42, IJ43, IJ44
Monolithic,Requires long etch timesIJ03, IJ05, IJ06, IJ07
etched throughRequires a support waferIJ08, IJ09, IJ10, IJ13
substrateIJ14, IJ15, IJ16, IJ19
IJ21, IJ23, IJ25, IJ26
No nozzle plateDifficult to control drop position accuratelyRicoh 1995 Sekiya et al
Crosstalk problemsU.S. Pat. No. 5,412,413
1993 Hadimioglu et al
EUP 550,192
1993 Elrod et al EUP
572,220
TroughDrop firing direction is sensitive to wicking.IJ35
Nozzle slitDifficult to control drop position accurately1989 Saito et al U.S. Pat. No.
instead ofCrosstalk problems4,799,068
individual
nozzles

DROP EJECTION DIRECTION
Ejection
directionDescriptionAdvantagesDisadvantagesExamples
EdgeInk flow is along the surface of the chip,Simple constructionNozzles limited to edgeCanon Bubblejet 1979
(‘edgeand ink drops are ejected from the chipNo silicon etching requiredHigh resolution is difficultEndo et al GB patent
shooter’)edge.Good heat sinking viaFast color printing requires2,007,162
substrateone print head per colorXerox heater-in-pit 1990
Mechanically strongHawkins et al U.S. Pat. No.
Ease of chip handing4,899,181
Tone-jet
SurfaceInk flow is along the surface of the chip,No bulk silicon etchingMaximum ink flow isHewlett-Packard TIJ 1982
(‘roof shooter’)and ink drops are ejected from the chiprequiredseverely restricted.Vaught et al U.S. Pat. No.
surface, normal to the plane of the chip.Silicon can make an4,490,728
effective heat sinkIJ02, IJ11, IJ12, IJ20
Mechanical strengthIJ22
Through chip,Ink flow is through the chip, and inkHigh ink flowRequires bulk silicon etchingSilverbrook, EP 0771 658
forwarddrops are ejected from the front surfaceSuitable for pagewidth printA2 and related patent
(‘up shooter’)of the chip.High nozzle packing densityapplications
therefore low manufacturingIJ04, IJ17, IJ18, IJ24
costIJ27-IJ45
Through chip,Ink flow is through the chip, and inkHigh ink flowRequires wafer thinningIJ01, IJ03, IJ05, IJ06
reversedrops are ejected from the rear surface ofSuitable for pagewidth printRequires special handlingIJ07, IJ08, IJ09, IJ10
(‘downthe chip.High nozzle packing densityduring manufactureIJ13, IJ14, IJ15, IJ16
shooter’)therefore low manufacturingIJ19, IJ21, IJ23, IJ25
costIJ26
ThroughInk flow is through the actuator, which isSuitable for piezoelectric printPagewidth print heads requireEpson Stylus
actuatornot fabricated as part of the sameheadsseveral thousand connectionsTektronix hot melt
substrate as the drive transistors.to drive circuitspiezoelectric ink jets
Cannot be manufactured
in standard CMOS fabs
Complex assembly required

INK TYPE
Ink typeDescriptionAdvantages
Aqueous, dyeWater based ink which typicallyEnvironmentally friendly
contains: water, dye, surfactant,No odor
humectant, and biocide.
Modern ink dyes have high water-
fastness, light fastness
Aqueous,Water based ink which typicallyEnvironmentally friendly
pigmentcontains: water, pigment, surfactant,No odor
humectant, and biocide.Reduced bleed
Pigments have an advantage in reducedReduced wicking
bleed, wicking and strikethrough.Reduced strikethrough
Methyl EthylMEK is a highly volatile solvent used forVery fast drying
Ketone (MEK)industrial printing on difficult surfacesPrints on various substrates
such as aluminum cans.such as metals and plastics
AlcoholAlcohol based inks can be used whereFast drying
(ethanol, 2-the printer must operate at temperaturesOperates at sub-freezing
butanol, andbelow the freezing point of water. Antemperatures
others)example of this is in-camera consumerReduced paper cockle
photographic printing.Low cost
Phase changeThe ink is solid at room temperature, andNo drying time-ink instantly
(hot melt)is melted in the print head before jetting.freezes on the print medium
Hot melt inks are usually wax based,Almost any print medium
with a melting point around 80° C. Aftercan be used
jetting the ink freezes almost instantlyNo paper cockle occurs
upon contacting the print medium or aNo wicking occurs
transfer roller.No bleed occurs
No strikethrough occurs
OilOil based inks are extensively used inHigh solubility medium for
offset printing. They have advantages insome dyes
improved characteristics on paperDoes not cockle paper
(especially no wicking or cockle). OilDoes not wick through paper
soluble dies and pigments are required.
MicroemulsionA microemulsion is a stable, self formingStops ink bleed
emulsion of oil, water, and surfactant.High dye solubility
The characteristic drop size is less thanWater, oil, and amphiphilic
100 nm, and is determined by thesoluble dies can be used
preferred curvature of the surfactant.Can stabilize pigment
suspensions
Ink typeDisadvantagesExamples
Aqueous, dyeSlow dryingMost existing inkjets
CorrosiveAll IJ series ink jets
Bleeds on paperSilverbrook, EP 0771 658
May strikethroughA2 and related patent
Cockles paperapplications
Aqueous,Slow dryingIJ02, IJ04, IJ21, IJ26
pigmentCorrosiveIJ27, IJ30
Pigment may clog nozzlesSilverbrook, EP 0771 658
Pigment may clog actuator mechanismsA2 and related patent
Cockles paperapplications
Piezoelectric ink-jets
Thermal ink jets (with
significant restrictions)
Methyl EthylOdorousAll IJ series ink jets
Ketone (MEK)Flammable
AlcoholSlight odorAll IJ series ink jets
(ethanol, 2-Flammable
butanol, and
others)
Phase changeHigh viscosityTektronix hot melt
(hot melt)Printed ink typically has a ‘waxy’ feelpiezoelectric ink jets
Printed pages may ‘block’1989 Nowak U.S. Pat. No.
Ink temperature may be above the curie point4,820,346
of permanent magnetsAll IJ series ink jets
Ink heaters consume power
Long warm-up time
OilHigh viscosity: this is a significant limitationAll IJ series ink jets
for use in inkjets, which usually require a
low viscosity. Some short chain and multi-
branched oils have a sufficiently low
viscosity.
Slow drying
MicroemulsionViscosity higher than waterAll IJ series ink jets
Cost is slightly higher than water based ink
High surfactant concentration required
(around 5%)

Ink Jet Printing

A large number of new forms of ink jet printers have been developed to facilitate alternative ink jet technologies for the image processing and data distribution system. Various combinations of ink jet devices can be included in printer devices incorporated as part of the present invention. Australian Provisional Patent Applications relating to these ink jets which are specifically incorporated by cross reference. The serial numbers of respective corresponding US patent applications are also provided for the sake of convenience.

Australian
ProvisionalUS Patent/Patent Application
NumberFiling DateTitleand Filing Date
PO806615-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ01)6,227,652
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO807215-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ02)6,213,588
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO804015-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ03)6,213,589
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO807115-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ04)6,231,163
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO804715-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ05)6,247,795
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO803515-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ06)6,394,581
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO804415-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ07)6,244,691
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO806315-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ08)6,257,704
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO805715-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ09)6,416,168
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO805615-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ10)6,220,694
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO806915-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ11)6,257,705
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO804915-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ12)6,247,794
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO803615-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ13)6,234,610
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO804815-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ14)6,247,793
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO807015-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ15)6,264,306
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO806715-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ16)6,241,342
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO800115-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ17)6,247,792
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO803815-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ18)6,264,307
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO803315-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ19)6,254,220
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO800215-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ20)6,234,611
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO806815-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ21)6,302,528
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO806215-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ22)6,283,582
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO803415-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ23)6,239,821
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO803915-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ24)6,338,547
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO804115-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ25)6,247,796
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO800415-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ26)09/113,122
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO803715-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ27)6,390,603
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO804315-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ28)6,362,843
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO804215-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ29)6,293,653
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO806415-Jul-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ30)6,312,107
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO938923-Sep-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ31)6,227,653
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO939123-Sep-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ32)6,234,609
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP088812-Dec-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ33)6,238,040
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP089112-Dec-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ34)6,188,415
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP089012-Dec-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ35)6,227,654
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP087312-Dec-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ36)6,209,989
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP099312-Dec-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ37)6,247,791
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP089012-Dec-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ38)6,336,710
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP139819-Jan-98An Image Creation Method and Apparatus6,217,153
(IJ39)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP259225-Mar-98An Image Creation Method and Apparatus6,416,167
(IJ40)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP259325-Mar-98Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ41)6,243,113
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP399119-Jun-98Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ42)6,283,581
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP39879-Jun-98Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ43)6,247,790
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP39859-Jun-98Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ44)6,260,953
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP39839-Jun-98Image Creation Method and Apparatus (IJ45)6,267,469
(Jul. 10, 1998)

Ink Jet Manufacturing

Further, the present application may utilize advanced semiconductor fabrication techniques in the construction of large arrays of ink jet printers. Suitable manufacturing techniques are described in the following Australian provisional patent specifications incorporated here by cross-reference. The serial numbers of respective corresponding US patent applications are also provided for the sake of convenience.

Australian
ProvisionalUS Patent/Patent Application
NumberFiling DateTitleand Filing Date
PO793515-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,224,780
Apparatus (IJM01)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO793615-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,235,212
Apparatus (IJM02)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO793715-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,280,643
Apparatus (IJM03)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO806115-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,284,147
Apparatus (IJM04)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO805415-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,214,244
Apparatus (IJM05)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO806515-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,071,750
Apparatus (IJM06)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO805515-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,267,905
Apparatus (IJM07)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO805315-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,251,298
Apparatus (IJM08)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO807815-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,258,285
Apparatus (IJM09)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO793315-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,225,138
Apparatus (IJM10)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO795015-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,241,904
Apparatus (IJM11)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO794915-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,299,786
Apparatus (IJM12)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO806015-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation09/113,124
Apparatus (IJM13)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO805915-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,231,773
Apparatus (IJM14)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO807315-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,190,931
Apparatus (IJM15)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO807615-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,248,249
Apparatus (IJM16)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO807515-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,290,862
Apparatus (IJM17)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO807915-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,241,906
Apparatus (IJM18)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO805015-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation09/113,116
Apparatus (IJM19)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO805215-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,241,905
Apparatus (IJM20)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO794815-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,451,216
Apparatus (IJM21)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO795115-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,231,772
Apparatus (IJM22)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO807415-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,274,056
Apparatus (IJM23)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO794115-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,290,861
Apparatus (IJM24)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO807715-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,248,248
Apparatus (IJM25)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO805815-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,306,671
Apparatus (IJM26)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO805115-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,331,258
Apparatus (IJM27)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO804515-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,110,754
Apparatus (IJM28)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO795215-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,294,101
Apparatus (IJM29)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO804615-Jul-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,416,679
Apparatus (IJM30)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO850311-Aug-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,264,849
Apparatus (IJM30a)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO939023-Sep-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,254,793
Apparatus (IJM31)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO939223-Sep-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,235,211
Apparatus (IJM32)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP088912-Dec-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,235,211
Apparatus (IJM35)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP088712-Dec-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,264,850
Apparatus (IJM36)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP088212-Dec-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,258,284
Apparatus (IJM37)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP087412-Dec-97A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,258,284
Apparatus (IJM38)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP139619-Jan-98A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,228,668
Apparatus (IJM39)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP259125-Mar-98A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,180,427
Apparatus (IJM41)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP39899-Jun-98A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,171,875
Apparatus (IJM40)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP39909-Jun-98A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,267,904
Apparatus (IJM42)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP39869-Jun-98A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,245,247
Apparatus (IJM43)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP39849-Jun-98A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,245,247
Apparatus (IJM44)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP39829-Jun-98A Method of Manufacture of an Image Creation6,231,148
Apparatus (IJM45)(Jul. 10, 1998)

Fluid Supply

Further, the present application may utilize an ink delivery system to the ink jet head. Delivery systems relating to the supply of ink to a series of ink jet nozzles are described in the following Australian provisional patent specifications, the disclosure of which are hereby incorporated by cross-reference. The serial numbers of respective corresponding US patent applications are also provided for the sake of convenience.

AustralianUS Patent/
ProvisionalPatent Application
NumberFiling DateTitleand Filing Date
PO800315-Jul-97Supply Method and6,350,023
Apparatus (F1)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO800515-Jul-97Supply Method and6,318,849
Apparatus (F2)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO940423-Sep-97A Device and09/113,101
Method (F3)(Jul. 10, 1998)

MEMS Technology

Further, the present application may utilize advanced semiconductor microelectromechanical techniques in the construction of large arrays of ink jet printers. Suitable microelectromechanical techniques are described in the following Australian provisional patent specifications incorporated here by cross-reference. The serial numbers of respective corresponding US patent applications are also provided for the sake of convenience.

AustralianUS Patent/
ProvisionalPatent Application
NumberFiling DateTitleand Filing Date
PO794315-Jul-97A device (MEMS01)
PO800615-Jul-97A device (MEMS02)6,087,638
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO800715-Jul-97A device (MEMS03)09/113,093
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO800815-Jul-97A device (MEMS04)6,340,222
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO801015-Jul-97A device (MEMS05)6,041,600
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO801115-Jul-97A device (MEMS06)6,299,300
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO794715-Jul-97A device (MEMS07)6,067,797
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO794515-Jul-97A device (MEMS08)9/113,081
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO794415-Jul-97A device (MEMS09)6,286,935
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO794615-Jul-97A device (MEMS10)6,044,646
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO939323-Sep-97A Device and09/113,065
Method (MEMS11)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP087512-Dec-97A Device (MEMS12)09/113,078
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP089412-Dec-97A Device and09/113,075
Method (MEMS13)(Jul. 10, 1998)

IR Technologies

Further, the present application may include the utilization of a disposable camera system such as those described in the following Australian provisional patent specifications incorporated here by cross-reference. The serial numbers of respective corresponding US patent applications are also provided for the sake of convenience.

Australian
ProvisionalUS Patent/Patent Application and
NumberFiling DateTitleFiling Date
PP089512-Dec-97An Image Creation Method and Apparatus6,231,148
(IR01)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP087012-Dec-97A Device and Method (IR02)09/113,106
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP086912-Dec-97A Device and Method (IR04)6,293,658
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP088712-Dec-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus09/113,104
(IR05)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP088512-Dec-97An Image Production System (IR06)6,238,033
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP088412-Dec-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus6,312,070
(IR10)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP088612-Dec-97Image Creation Method and Apparatus6,238,111
(IR12)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP087112-Dec-97A Device and Method (IR13)09/113,086
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP087612-Dec-97An Image Processing Method and09/113,094
Apparatus (IR14)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP087712-Dec-97A Device and Method (IR16)6,378,970
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP087812-Dec-97A Device and Method (IR17)6,196,739
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP087912-Dec-97A Device and Method (IR18)09/112,774
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP088312-Dec-97A Device and Method (IR19)6,270,182
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP088012-Dec-97A Device and Method (IR20)6,152,619
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP088112-Dec-97A Device and Method (IR21)09/113,092
(Jul. 10, 1998)

DotCard Technologies

Further, the present application may include the utilization of a data distribution system such as that described in the following Australian provisional patent specifications incorporated here by cross-reference. The serial numbers of respective corresponding US patent applications are also provided for the sake of convenience.

AustralianUS Patent/
ProvisionalFilingPatent Application
NumberDateTitleand Filing Date
PP237016-Mar-98Data Processing Method09/112,781
and Apparatus (Dot01)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP237116-Mar-98Data Processing Method09/113,052
and Apparatus (Dot02)(Jul. 10, 1998)

Artcam Technologies

Further, the present application may include the utilization of camera and data processing techniques such as an Artcam type device as described in the following Australian provisional patent specifications incorporated here by cross-reference. The serial numbers of respective corresponding US patent applications are also provided for the sake of convenience.

Australian
ProvisionalUS Patent/Patent Application and
NumberFiling DateTitleFiling Date
PO799115-Jul-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus6,750,901
(ART01)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO798815-Jul-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus6,476,863
(ART02)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO799315-Jul-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus09/113,073
(ART03)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO939523-Sep-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus6,322,181
(ART04)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO801715-Jul-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus09/112,747
(ART06)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO801415-Jul-97Media Device (ART07)6,227,648
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO802515-Jul-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus09/112,750
(ART08)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO803215-Jul-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus09/112,746
(ART09)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO799915-Jul-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus09/112,743
(ART10)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO799815-Jul-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus09/112,742
(ART11)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO803115-Jul-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus09/112,741
(ART12)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO803015-Jul-97Media Device (ART13)6,196,541
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO799715-Jul-97Media Device (ART15)6,195,150
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO797915-Jul-97Media Device (ART16)6,362,868
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO801515-Jul-97Media Device (ART17)09/112,738
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO797815-Jul-97Media Device (ART18)09/113,067
(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO798215-Jul-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus6,431,669
(ART19)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO798915-Jul-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus6,362,869
(ART20)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO801915-Jul-97Media Processing Method and Apparatus6,472,052
(ART21)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO798015-Jul-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus6,356,715
(ART22)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO801815-Jul-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus09/112,777
(ART24)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO793815-Jul-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus09/113,224
(ART25)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO801615-Jul-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus6,366,693
(ART26)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO802415-Jul-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus6,329,990
(ART27)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO794015-Jul-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus09/113,072
(ART28)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO793915-Jul-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus09/112,785
(ART29)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO850111-Aug-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus6,137,500
(ART30)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO850011-Aug-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus09/112,796
(ART31)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO798715-Jul-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus09/113,071
(ART32)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO802215-Jul-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus6,398,328
(ART33)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO849711-Aug-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus09/113,090
(ART34)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO802015-Jul-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus6,431,704
(ART38)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO802315-Jul-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus09/113,222
(ART39)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO850411-Aug-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus09/112,786
(ART42)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO800015-Jul-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus6,415,054
(ART43)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO797715-Jul-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus09/112,782
(ART44)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO793415-Jul-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus09/113,056
(ART45)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO799015-Jul-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus09/113,059
(ART46)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO849911-Aug-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus6,486,886
(ART47)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO850211-Aug-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus6,381,361
(ART48)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO798115-Jul-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus6,317,192
(ART50)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO798615-Jul-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus09/113,057
(ART51)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO798315-Jul-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus09/113,054
(ART52)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO802615-Jul-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus09/112,752
(ART53)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO802715-Jul-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus09/112,759
(ART54)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO802815-Jul-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus09/112,757
(ART56)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO939423-Sep-97Image Processing Method and Apparatus6,357,135
(ART57)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO939623-Sep-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus09/113,107
(ART58)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO939723-Sep-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus6,271,931
(ART59)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO939823-Sep-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus6,353,772
(ART60)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO939923-Sep-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus6,106,147
(ART61)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO940023-Sep-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus09/112,790
(ART62)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO940123-Sep-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus6,304,291
(ART63)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO940223-Sep-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus09/112,788
(ART64)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO940323-Sep-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus6,305,770
(ART65)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PO940523-Sep-97Data Processing Method and Apparatus6,289,262
(ART66)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP095916-Dec-97A Data Processing Method and6,315,200
Apparatus (ART68)(Jul. 10, 1998)
PP139719-Jan-98A Media Device (ART69)6,217,165
(Jul. 10, 1998)