Material science is an integral part of product competitiveness, applied to the development of colorants, toners, and optical glasses.
From the 1980s, Canon has been undertaking research on such materials, and has created a corporate database called Canon Material Bank, with company-wide accessibility.
In most cases, since printer manufacturers do not develop original colorants in-house, and procure commercially available dyes from suppliers, it is difficult for them to differentiate their products from competitors in color appearance. Canon, however, recognized the high color properties of xanthene-based dyes, and started to develop such vivid red dye in-house. Although such xanthene-based dyes were considered difficult to put into practice due to their weakness against image permanence, lightfastness, Canon tackled this issue and successfully created a new magenta dye, a Vivid Red with permanence.
Canon began developing new dyes in the 1980s, which is now all registered in the database called, Canon Material Bank, boasting more than 10,000 types of dyes. Various technical information and knowhow are also stored, along with information on their physical properties and synthesis, for example, the mechanisms behind the breakdown of dye structures when exposed to stimuli such as light and ozone gas. During the development of such xanthene-based dyes, repetitive studies and simulations were made on molecule designing, synthesizing, then analysis and evaluation, using materials in the database stock. By locating specific substituents at the suitable places of the dye structure, enabled a birth of a new dye with both vivid color and image permanence.
It was 2012 when the first original dye was used in the ink for cartridge BCI-351. Modified generation two novel dye was applied to cartridge XK1-N11, released in 2017, which contributed to improved print quality.
The success in creating a new dye on a lab-scale is only the first step. Achieving production on a full-scale is required for commercialization. Compared to the small 300 mm size reactors in the laboratory, those used in mass production are on a one ton scale or larger, completely on a different scale-order. With inkjet printers, which eject ink droplets in the unit of picoliters, any slight track of impurities, generated during synthesis, could lead to ink clogging at the nozzles of the printhead. A joint research was made with the business group and corporate research center, resulting in controlling the impurity level below one part per million. The collaborative effort paved the way for commercialization, ensuring consistent ink quality on a full-scale.
The new ink in the new XKI-N11 ink cartridge has a wider color reproduction range in the red area than conventional ink.
Solid: Color reproduction range of conventional ink
Wire: Color reproduction range of new ink
Piezoelectric materials, which are essential for motors and sensors, have the ability to transform electrical energy into mechanical energy. Most piezoelectric materials, however, include lead. Lead has a negative impact on the environment, which has become an issue within the industry. Canon eliminated lead from solder and optical glass for lenses, and has been developing lead-free piezoelectric materials, which are implemented in new Canon products.
Preparing samples of lead-free piezoelectrics for analysis by sintering mixed raw particles
Analyzing and evaluating a synthesized sample to determine its suitability as a material
From 2007 to 2012, Canon participated in a national project called, “Element Strategy Initiative”, launched by Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Working on lead-free piezoelectric materials at Canon was one of the goals of the project, to create new high performance materials. By studying the properties of elements that structure substances, and understanding their roles, the mechanisms behind realizing such performances became clear. Although the goal of the research was to create new materials that do not contain environmentally hazardous elements, Canon was able to create piezoelectric materials that is not only environmentally-friendly, but also with higher piezoelectric performance, exceeding widely used lead-based piezoelectric materials. These efforts became the basis for research and development being carried out today.
Building on DSLR Know-How to Expand Photographic Possibility
The Tsuzuri Project
Fusing Tech with Tradition to Preserve Japanese Beauty
The Potential of Canon Electronics' Satellite Business
Ultra High-Resolution CT
How We Developed Our Ultra-High-Resolution CT System