Guide to Choosing a Printhead

printheads, textile printheads -

Guide to Choosing a Printhead

Printheads are perhaps the most important part of any printer, but you might not give them a second thought until you’re shopping for a new printer for your business. Then, you’ll be faced with the choice between piezoelectric or thermal printheads. Which is right for your applications? Does it matter?

Here’s what you need to know about how to buy printheads.

What Are Printheads?

If you’re new to industrial or commercial printing, you might first need to brush up on what printheads are and the purpose they serve. Digital printers don’t simply apply ink from a cartridge directly to print media. Instead, a printhead is used to take ink from the cartridge and drop or spray it onto the media and create the desired image or text.

Printheads are complicated devices, with nozzles for each color of ink (cyan, yellow, magenta and black at minimum) and sophisticated electrical components. Electrical circuits signal to the printhead nozzles to tell them when and how much ink to release onto the media. The way they do this can be quite different depending on the type of printhead used by your printer.

Piezoelectric Printheads

Both types of printheads drop ink onto print media, but the similarities end there. A piezoelectric printhead had microscopic elements incorporated into each print nozzle. When electrical charges are applied to these elements, the nozzle is moved and ink is dropped onto the medium. The piezoelectric elements and electrical charges operate much like an on/off switch—a charge turns the nozzle on, and the lack of charge turns it off. 

Piezoelectric printheads allow for a higher degree of control, creating precise dots of ink that, together, form detailed images. We recommend choosing a printer with a piezoelectric printhead if you are going to be using aqueous, UV-cured, or solvent-based inks.

Thermal Inkjet Printheads

Thermal printheads use heat to “turn on” the ink instead of electrical charges. Tiny resistors attached to the print nozzles are electrified, which heats ink inside the nozzles. The ink boils and vaporizes; bubbles of ink are released from the nozzles onto print media to create images.

While, as you can imagine, this process allows for less precision than piezoelectric printing, thermal printheads are still useful for many applications. We recommend this type of printhead for textiles and water-based inks. If you buy HP printheads, you’re buying thermal inkjet printheads.

Which Printhead Is Best for Your Needs?

If you’re not sure which type of printer is best for your purposes or you need to replace a printhead and you don’t know which type you need, we’re happy to help. We have an extensive selection of printheads for sale on our website. 

Generally speaking, a piezoelectric printhead is a better choice where detail and fine lines are needed; you’ll get a higher resolution and better definition with this type of printer. On the other hand, if you’re creating large-scale signage or you need to print quickly and affordably, thermal printheads will be sufficient for your needs.

Where to Buy Printheads

At All Print Heads, we specialize in providing replacement printheads for a wide variety of commercial printers. With years of experience in the printing industry, we can help you find exactly what you need. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for your business.


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