Trying to Laser-Print on to tiles

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john1

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Hi,

I want to try and get a laser printer to print on to ceramic tiles.
I realise that the tiles could not go through the rollers like paper,
so i will have to adapt the machine to do it in a 'flat' way.

My main concern is not the mechanics of the scanning, it is the nature
of the electrostatics. Will a glazed ceramic tile accept a charge ??

I do not know if a tile would hold the electrostatic image, for the
toner to cling on to.
These things have to be done in the dark, otherwise i would have tried
something to check by now.

My feeling is that the ceramic tile surface would be Ok as an electro-
static charge-holding medium, for the short time required.
But i want to be fairly sure that a tile could be printed upon before
trying to get a laser printer to scan it.

What i have done, is to put some sellotape on to a sheet of paper, and
did some printing on it.
Yes, it printed Ok on to the sellotape, which went through the rollers
without a problem.
However that only tells me that the print surface need not be paper,
and that a shiny sellotape surface is Ok.

It is possible that there is a laser printer already available to do
this, but if so i have not found it.

Any input or advice would be welcome.

Regards, John :)
 
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:) Not sure if what you want to do will work or not but here is a link that might shed a little light on the subject.

Good luck.

Kilowatt
 

john1

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Hi Kilowatt1

Hows it going !!
Had a look at that site you mentioned, but they don't use a laser
printer on the tiles, they use the laser printer on special paper,
which they then transfer to the tiles, and fire them.
Their process is involved with the firing of the image on tiles.

I just want to use a laser printer on tiles.

My feeling is that it should be Ok, what do you think ?

I think the biggest problem will be with the scanning, so i will
have to adapt various bits and pieces to do that.

John :)
 

DoubleHelix

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My guess is that no one's bothered to completely re-build a laser printer just to try to print on ceramic tiles especially since there appears to be a way to apply an image without such major modifications.

You'll probably be the first. Let us know how it works out.
 
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Find a plotter (not a printer) and alter the frame to take the thicker tile instead of paper.
Before the new printers became so cheap most offices had plotters to make charts, (I even had a 4" one for my old Commodore64.)
With a plotter you could even control the ink to something more permanent. Look for one in used office supply stores.

Laser printers need some static charge to work, but ink-jets don't. You can even ink-jet onto tee-shirts.

Consider applying photo-sensitive paint to the tiles, then overlay a negative and apply light.-Wash off the results and dip in acid-like they make electrical citcuit boards.
 
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The problem is not so much that the tiles will not accept the charge, but that in no way could the laser printer fuse the toner to the tiles.

You will note that paper is hot when it comes out of the printer, that is due to the fuzer melting the toner into the paper.

To be able to do that to a tile would mean that the printer would have to have a fuzer section equivalent to a kiln to produce enough heat!
 

john1

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Hi DoubleHelix,
I very much doubt that i would be the first to try this, in fact i am
still hoping that i will come across a unit made for the job.
The early copiers had a horizontally travelling carriage, i may be
able to adapt something like that, so that the tile need not go through
the rollers.
I dunno yet.
I am still trying to ascertain if it is feasible.

Hi Knotbored,
Using a plotter is an excellent idea. I will have to look into that.
I have never used a plotter, and i have no experience of them at all.
But i have seen them here and there, i will have to check this out.

Hi Kiwiguy,
You might be right about about the heating element, i don't know.
But i am willing to step up the heating, if that is what it takes.
I would imagine tiles could withstand quite an amount.

Anyway, i am going to try and check out plotters.
That might be the answer i am looking for.

Cheers, John :)
 

DoubleHelix

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kiwiguy is right. There's no way you're going to get a laser printer to generate enough heat to fuse anything to a ceramic tile. If you try, you could end up destroying much more than a tile and a laser printer. You need to be careful.
 

john1

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Hi DoubleHelix,

kiwiguy is right. There's no way you're going to get a laser printer to generate enough heat to fuse anything to a ceramic tile. If you try, you could end up destroying much more than a tile and a laser printer. You need to be careful.
I wouldn't just go ramping it up,
i would try a little toner on a tile, and see if it would adhere
by passing an element over it closely.
If i were to do that, i would have a rough idea of how much heat is
needed before hand.
Maybe it would not be possible without getting everything too hot,
but maybe it would work Ok.
If i go that route, i would try things before modifying a laser unit.

But i am now thinking about plotters, that seems more likely.
Haven't found out much about them on the net yet, still looking.

Cheers, John :)
 
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The tiles would withstand the heat for sure but no way in hell could the laser stand the required heat to fuse the toner to a tile....

As above its akin to putting it in a kiln, even then the toner would not permeate a glazed tile, the result would just rub off. So would inkjets.

The design would need to be done to the unfinished tile before it was glazed in a kiln, conventional inks and toners would probably not work. You need pottery glazes.
 
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Another thought-use silk-screen
You can make a screen with off-the-shelf materials, and get some amazing details and multiple colors. Most art supply stores will have the stuff you need (resists, glue, rollers, sqeegees and ceramic paint.) You can even get kits for sampling projects.

This is a quick description of the skill, and a place to review the materials
http://www.standardscreen.com/index.asp?PageAction=Custom&ID=2
 

cwwozniak

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john1 said:
I think the biggest problem will be with the scanning, so i will
have to adapt various bits and pieces to do that.

John :)
Will the ceramic tiles be perfectly mirror flat to within thousandths of an inch across their entire surface and be free of any small bumps? The normal laser printing process involves a drum with a rather fragile organic material surface coming into intimate contact with the paper to transfer the toner. Any small gap could result in toner not transferring and any tiny pointed bump in the tile could put a permanent dent in the drum that will never print again at that location.

Fusing the toner to the paper also requires a very high temperature for a short period of time. A laser printer uses several hundred watts of power to fuse the toner to paper. You would need a much higher powered heat source to quickly get the tile surface up to a similar temperature. The high heat could crack the tile or craze the surface due to sudden thermal expansion.
 
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cwwozniak has scored the hit there!

The inkjet uses "glaze" type inks, so the unglazed tiles have to be printed to before firing in a kiln, exactly as I suggested in post #10, but I was unaware that the technology actually existed.
 
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You will not get an electric charge to ceramic. That is what insulates spark plugs and hydro wires.
 
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