The patent's assignee for patent number 8506060 is
News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention relates to an ink supply device for an inkjet printer and an inkjet printer.
"An inkjet printer is an apparatus which forms images of information such as characters, graphics, patterns, and photographs on a print surface by ejecting fine particles of ink from a plurality of nozzles, which are formed in a print head, to deposit the ink on a print medium while moving the print head relative to the print medium. Because of the structure, as the inkjet printer has remained in the non-operating state for a long period of time, ink residual thickens around nozzle peripheries of the print head, thus not allowing the ink to be ejected properly. For solving this problem, there is an inkjet printer which includes a suction route for performing forcible vacuum suction of ink remaining in the print head in the state that the nozzle face of the print head is capped by a rubber cap, for example, on start-up (for example, see JP-A-2007-216535). In this way, thickening ink is sucked and removed and, at the same time, new ink is supplied into the print head, thereby reestablishing the print head to a state that ink can be ejected properly.
"Further, in the inkjet printer, since ink is consumed according to the ejection of the ink, a carriage of the print head or a printer body is provided with an ink tank (ink cartridge) having a volume based on the intended use. In case of a large-sized inkjet printer for printing large commercial advertisements, banners, and the like, a large amount of ink is consumed in a relatively short time. In such a large-sized inkjet printer, therefore, a large volumetric ink tank (main tank) is generally provided in the printer body, and the ink tank and the print head are connected through tubes or the like so as to supply ink from the ink tank to the print head.
"However, as the inner pressure of the print head becomes higher than the normal atmospheric pressure, a problem that ink is pushed out of nozzles to drip onto a print medium, i.e. a dripping problem occurs. To solve this problem, there is known an ink supply device of a 'negative pressure producing type' which includes a sub-tank of a smaller volume disposed at the supply passage connecting main tank and print head, in which the print head is made into a state of slight negative pressure by reducing the pressure of the sub-tank (see, for example, JP-A-2004-284207 and JP-A-2006-62330).
"The ink supply device of the aforementioned type is controlled such that a predetermined amount of ink is stored in the ink chamber of the sub-tank according to the amount of ink ejected from the nozzles to prevent interruption of ink supply to the print head. As one example of the control, it is controlled to supply ink from the main tank to the sub-tank when the ink level in the sub-tank is detected to be lowered to a predetermined lower limit. As a regular means of detecting the ink level, a structure has been disclosed in which a float provided with a magnet is vertically movably placed to float on ink and a sensor for detecting magnetism from the magnet is disposed at a predetermined level (for example, JP-A-2001-141547).
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