Hybrid IC technology is not obsolete (See my EDN article from a visit to their site in Tucson, AZ here). Apex Microtechnology has numerous products that prove that (See last year’s APEC 2017 offering from Apex here).
Jens Eltze, Strategic Marketing, Apex Microtechnology at the Apex booth on the APEC 2018 exhibit floor. (Image courtesy of Loretta Taranovich)
Apex was displaying their latest hybrid and monolithic technologies at APEC 2018. Hybrid is not dead!
Apex had an array of newest hybrid and monolithic devices with unique functionality at their booth (Image courtesy of Loretta Taranovich)
Highlighting the Apex booth display was the new single chip monolithic PA 164/165. The PA 165 is a 4A continuous output current (10A peak current) and the PA 164 is a 1A continuous output current (4A peak current) device. Their proprietary monolithic MOSFET design is at the heart of these devices.
Check out this YouTube video on their new product PA 164/165 which is a monolithic solution for low cost with a package design that supports top-side heatsink mounting:
Industrial inkjet printing application
It seems to me that an excellent market to deploy these devices would be the industrial inkjet market.
See this Power Electronics News (PEN) article entitled Driving piezoelectric actuators in industrial inkjet printers
This typical inkjet design was on display at the Apex booth. Xaar has an excellent Guide to Industrial Inkjet here.
Printhead electrical requirements are not uniform as each brand of printhead has a specially tuned set of requirements for optimized performance. These printheads use piezoelements to drive ink out of hundreds or thousands of nozzles in specific patterns to generate an image. To drive the piezos, printer manufacturers who are looking for varied control and management of the printhead nozzles can turn to companies like Fujifilm Dimatix and Ricoh. The printheads these companies produce require external drives that printer OEMs must design, this is where Apex steps in. By working with the printhead manufacturers, Apex has a line of piezo driver products specifically tuned for optimizing printhead performance. Though Apex has had products available for the inkjet printing market for over a decade, at this years’ APEC, Apex was highlighting their new MP106 and MP204, piezo op amp drivers that are designed to drive Fujifilm Dimatix’ Samba and Ricoh’s GEN5 printheads, respectively, or similar printheads.
These drivers are able to handle the dynamic capacitive loads that result from the constantly changing number of active nozzles to ensure a consistent waveform output. These waveforms determine when and how much ink the nozzles will eject. A consistent waveform, in turn, means high print quality for the printer manufacturer and their customers.
These products are so well tuned that, as an example, the waveforms that MP106 generates are of superior quality. Additionally, the electrical specifications of each op amp driver are designed for ease of integration into the overall printer. Apex continues to expand their printing product line to more printheads and levels of integration..
An exploded view of an Xaar 1001 printhead (Image courtesy of Xaar)
A PA 164 power amplifier in a floating load voltage-to-current configuration (Image courtesy of Apex Microtechnology)
We can expect to hear more about new applications and new offerings from Apex Microtechnology this year.