The Lee Valve Company Finally Has Competition

The expiration of U.S. Patent 5.819,799, held by the Lee Company of Westbrook, CT has opened the doors to competition in the manufacture of high-speed solenoid-operated microfluidic valves.

These microfluidic valves are used in a wide range of industrial, medical and research applications. One such application is inkjet valves for large character drop-on-demand (DOD) printing. Sinotech has manufactured microfluidic valves, including inkjet valves, for decades. Now, with the expiration of the Lee Company patent, Sinotech is able to offer microfluidic valves and inkjet valves at less than one half the cost of Lee valves.

Chemical Compatibility

One of the biggest challenges faced by microfluidic valves is chemical compatibility between the solvents transported through the valve and the valve components. Sinotech has established laboratory facilities to perform accelerated life testing of critical valve components across a wide range of solvents. Exotic aerospace materials are used in the manufacture of some components. Sinotech valves are compatible many solvents including:

  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Ethylene glycol
  • Ether
  • Methyl ethyl ketone
  • Hydrous ammonia

Reverse Engineering Existing Applications

If microfluidic valves are already in use, large cost savings and customizations can be achieved by working closely with Sinotech. Recent projects have resulted in savings of over 50% compared to the Lee Valve Company. Sinotech will work with you to achieve 100% plug-and-play compatibility in both electrical and mechanical performance as well as chemical compatibility.

Inkjet Valves

inkJet1sm Inkjet valves from Sinotech can now replace almost every inkjet
valve found in today’s large character Drop-on-Demand (DOD) inkjet printers. Until recently, almost all inkjet valves were made by Lee Company who had a patent-protected monopoly on the sales of these valves. Inkjet valves could only be purchased through the original manufacturer of the ink jet printer and at very high cost. For some time now, Sinotech has been selling its valves to most printer manufacturers including Loveshaw (Little David), Alphadot, Digital Design, Domino, ABM Marking and many others from around the world.

inkJet2sm Now Sinotech can provide the very same ink jet valves directly to
the end user. Every valve goes through a very extensive testing process using actual ink to test each valve and to assure that the valves are fully exercised prior to installation into an ink jet system. Simply open up the print head, exchange ink jet
valves, close the print head and resume printing.

New Solvent-Resistant Valves

An ink jet valve contains a stainless steel plunger that vibrates inside an ink-filled chamber at up to 600 times per second. The tip of the plunger is equipped with a resilient seal material that vibrates against a plastic valve seat. A major cause of valve failure is the deterioration of the valve seal in the presence of corrosive inks and pigments. To date other valve manufacturers have tried to solve the seal deterioration problem but with limited success.

Sinotech announces the introduction of its flouroelastomer line of ink jet valves. Flouroelastomers are highly resistant to alcohol- and MEK-based inks. They are resistant to gasoline, toluene, hexane, acetone, and MTBE. So far, no inks have proved too tough for our seals.

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