Inkjet printing solutions are widely used in various industries, such as packaging, textiles, and printing. Two of the most common types of inkjet printing are continuous inkjet (CIJ) and thermal inkjet (TIJ). While both technologies use liquid ink to produce high-quality prints, they differ in terms of their design and method of operation.

We’ll compare continuous inkjet and thermal inkjet printing solutions to help you understand the differences between them and determine which one is best suited for your printing needs.

Continuous Inkjet (CIJ) Printing

Continuous inkjet (CIJ) printing is a non-contact printing method that uses a high-pressure pump to deliver electrically charged droplets of ink through a printhead nozzle. An electrode then charges the droplets according to the desired pattern and directs them toward the printing surface. The uncharged droplets are recycled back into the ink supply, while the charged droplets form the printed image.


  • High-speed printing: CIJ printers can produce up to several thousand prints per minute, making them ideal for high-volume production.
  • Versatility: CIJ printers can print on various surfaces, including paper, plastic, metal, and glass.
  • Minimal overspray: CIJ printers have minimal overspray, resulting in less wasted ink and reduced costs.


  • Limited color range: Our CIJ printers are only available in black ink.
  • Low resolution: Limits users from printing barcodes and sharp logos.
  • Turnaround times: If you want to print in a different color, you need to flush the system with the previous color ink.

An example of a continuous inkjet printer is the Linx10 from Tourmaline Enterprises. The Linx10 is a compact, portable CIJ printer designed for batch coding. Despite its small footprint, it’s powerful and can print up to three lines of high-quality text on any type of dry substrate. The Linx10’s simple code setup allows for quick transitions between products, enhancing operational efficiency. Its sturdy construction ensures reliable performance, making it an excellent choice for manufacturers looking for consistent and seamless production.

Comparing Continuous and Thermal Inkjet Printing Solutions

Thermal Inkjet (TIJ) Printing

Thermal (TIJ) inkjet printing is a contact printing method that uses heat to create vapor bubbles within the printhead, propelling tiny droplets of ink onto the printing surface. The printhead in TIJ printers contains several hundred nozzles that can produce precise drops of ink at high speeds.


  • High resolution: TIJ printers can produce prints with a resolution of up to 600 dpi, making them ideal for detailed and intricate designs.
  • Easy maintenance: TIJ printheads are disposable and easily replaceable, reducing downtime for maintenance. They are disposable because they are part of the cartridge system, and every time a cartridge is replaced, you are technically changing the printheads.
  • Minimal overspray: Like CIJ printers, TIJ printers also have minimal overspray.
  • Wide color range: TIJ printers come with a variety of different color inks, printing one color at a time.


  • Slower printing speed: TIJ printers are generally slower than CIJ printers, making them more suitable for low- to medium-volume production. However, there are still some TIJ printers that are faster than CIJ printers.
  • Orientation obstacles: TIJ printers don’t print with the printhead pointing up, so it’s a little more challenging to print on the bottom of certain products, like bottles.

Tourmaline Enterprises also carries several thermal inkjet printers, including the MOTIX 2000 & 4000. These printers have a compact design and can produce high-resolution prints on various substrates, including plastics, paper, and aluminum. They also have a user-friendly interface for easy code creation and editing.

Factors To Consider When Choosing

Should you invest in a CIJ or TIJ printer? The answer depends on your specific printing needs. Consider the following factors when choosing between these two inkjet printing solutions.

Quality and Precision

Both CIJ and TIJ printers offer excellent print quality, but they excel in different areas. CIJ printers like the Linx10 are ideal for high-speed applications requiring robust and durable prints on various substrates. TIJ printers, on the other hand, provide superior resolution and are perfect for applications demanding high precision and clarity, such as printing barcodes and graphics.

Operating and Maintenance Costs

When it comes to costs, CIJ printers generally require more ink and have a higher risk of overspray, resulting in higher operating costs. However, their durable design and continuous operation capability can reduce maintenance expenses. TIJ printers may be cheaper upfront but typically require frequent printhead replacements, increasing long-term maintenance costs.

Substrate and Environment Compatibility

CIJ printers are highly versatile and can print on a wide range of substrates, including plastics, metals, and glass, as well as various shaped surfaces like concave and round forms. TIJ printers, though less versatile in terms of substrate compatibility, excel in controlled environments where print quality is the primary concern.

Speed and Efficiency

CIJ printers can generally produce prints at a higher speed than TIJ printers. If you require fast and continuous printing for high-volume production, a CIJ printer may be the better option. However, if you value precision over speed and have low- to medium-volume printing needs, TIJ printers may be more suitable.

Printer Size and Portability

Another factor to consider is the size and portability of the printer. CIJ printers, such as the Linx10, are generally more compact and portable than TIJ printers due to their simpler design. This makes them a great option for small production spaces or on-the-go printing needs.

Ultimately, both CIJ and TIJ printing solutions have unique strengths and applications. Consider your specific requirements, production volume, substrate compatibility, and environment to determine which inkjet printing solution will best suit your business needs.

Comparing Continuous and Thermal Inkjet Printing Solutions

Which Printing Solution Should You Use?

Deciding between CIJ and TIJ printing solutions depends on your specific manufacturing requirements. If you’re conflicted on which one to choose, ask yourself these questions:

  • What type of substrate do I need to print on?
  • What’s my desired printing speed and volume?
  • Do I need vibrant and full-color prints or high precision and clarity?
  • How much am I willing to spend on ink, maintenance, and replacement parts?
  • Will I use the printer in a controlled environment or in challenging conditions?

By considering these questions and understanding the differences between CIJ and TIJ printing solutions, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your business needs and goals. Tourmaline Enterprises offers a wide range of inkjet printers and expert guidance to help you find the perfect solution for your facility. Contact us today to learn more about our products and services. Whether you choose a CIJ or TIJ printer, we’re here to support your printing needs and help you achieve efficient, high-quality production.