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Blog posts of '2021' 'March'

The Anatomy of a Printhead (Part 2)

When we left off in our last blog post, the circuits were being tested by our engineers.  Now that we have working, defect-free circuits, it’s time to build a printhead.

Wire Bonding … the next step
The circuits that have been cleared in electrical testing move on to wire bonding.  Gulton uses an automatic wire bonder to provide connectivity between the printed circuit board and the PCB parts that create the functional printhead. 

Let’s go under the hood …
If you look under the cover of a printhead you’ll see a number of components essential to printhead operation.  Let’s look at a few of those components.

Resistors are used to reduce current flow, adjust signal levels, divide voltages, bias active elements and terminate transition lines.

Driver Chips (IC)
A driver chip is an electrical circuit or component that is used to control another circuit or component.

Connectors allow the flow of voltage and data through flexible cables connected to logic and power. 

Heat Sink
This is a passive heat exchanger that transfers the heat generated by an electronic or a mechanical device.  Heat is dissipated away from the device thereby allowing regulation of the device's temperature at optimal levels.

These and other components are assembled by hand on the Gulton manufacturing floor.

Printhead Testing
Every printhead Gulton manufactures goes through a rigorous testing process.   Our process of circuit testing, purchasing the highest quality components for use in our printheads, it is the final testing process that assures both Gulton and our customers that the printheads they’ve ordered are in top working condition prior to their receipt. 

Gulton works hard to make sure that we deliver our customers the best quality compatible printheads available.  We’re proud of our process and we’re happy to share it with you.  If you have any questions, or if we can help you with your printhead requirements, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-800-356-0399.  And make sure you check out our video that will make Gulton’s manufacturing process come to life for you.  You can watch it here: https://youtu.be/WFHOxgf0YEQ or right on our home page.



The Anatomy of a Printhead (Part I)


Gulton manufactures almost 100 different compatible thermal printheads.  If you were to line them up next to one another, most would look noticeably different than their counterparts.  Printheads come in different lengths, widths and heights.  And there are some differences that aren’t simply visual.  Some printheads are 200 dots per inch, while others are 300 dots per inch.  Some boast extended life while others can be unique to different industries and applications.

At their core though, every printhead has an almost identical anatomy, with a manufacturing process that follows Gulton’s proven approach.

So what exactly is the anatomy of a printhead?  Let’s take a look inside …

It Starts with a Substrate
Every thermal printhead begins its life as a simple substrate.  A substrate is a piece of white ceramic materials that contains the individual dot pixels that connect electrically to heat the pixels to produce an image.  The substrates come to us as mutli-circuit boards.

The first step in the transformation of the substrate board is the coating process.  Substrates receive a hard coating that protects the heating elements from abrasion by the print medium, while still enabling the heat generated to produce quality printed characters.


Preparing the Printed Circuit Board
After the substrates are coated, geometric patterns are engraved into an etching layer that has been spread over the coating.  This essential step creates the printed circuit board (PCB).  Then batches of circuits are loaded into a belt furnace for thermal treatment.

Circuit Testing
Every circuit Gulton manufactures is tested individually for open defects and electrical shorts.  This step helps us ensure that every printhead Gulton ships is defect free.

That brings us about halfway through our process.  In our next installment, we’ll cover heat sinks, driver chips, connectors and heater lines.  You can see our process on YouTube.  It’s a fascinating look inside how Gulton delivers the best thermal printhead replacements available!


Any questions so far?  Don't hesitate to give us a call at 1-800-356-0399.  We're always happy to hear from you.