Ink Jet 11/18/22

Memories with Richard Bleil

Today (as of the writing of this blog so a few days ago) was interesting.  Apparently, I’m putting a lot of faith into my ability to make money as a photographer as I purchased a professional photo printer.  I also bought the paper (matte, glossy) from 4”x6” to 13”x19”.  I have one photograph that I truly like with bees that I’ll be printing (maybe not the biggest but big) that will be a good trial.  I just realized, though, that I probably should get a paper cutter so I can trim it. 

It’s always something.

Ultimately, this is a glorified ink jet printer.  It’s rather more expensive to run than those that most people have, but it did get me to thinking about my own potential small contribution to the ink jet industry.  Not that it has been or ever will be acknowledged, and I certainly won’t be compensated, but it’s a curious thing to look at these printers and thinking about it.

My friend was in the Air Force, and I was in college working on my undergraduate degree in chemistry.  He took leave at the same time that I was on vacation, and we met up at his parent’s house one weekend.  I was chatting with his father who worked with a computer engineering company and described the new printer they were working on.  This revolutionary approach worked by literally spraying a small amount of ink for each pixel, and it was showing great promise, but they couldn’t get the solvent ratio correct.  Too much solvent, and the print quality was poor as the ink ran, but if there wasn’t enough solvent, the nozzles would jam too frequently.  So, I asked what I thought to be the obvious question.  “Why don’t you try a different solvent?”

He looked at me as if I had cement drying on my face.  “You mean there are different types of solvent?” 

It’s one of those funny little things that, even while still undergoing my education, my background just provided me the simple solution that he had not thought about.  Yes, there are different solvents.  I have no idea what they were using, but solvents run from very polar to very non-polar, with various viscosities (thicknesses), heats of vaporization (which is involved with how quickly they will dry), and if you mix miscible solvents, you can pretty much create solvents with any properties that you should desire. 

Did I make a contribution to ink jet development?  I have no idea.  I never heard back, but he was very excited to take this news to his group, and I was proud to have hopefully contributed. 

Sometimes we make contributions to our society without ever even realizing it.  The truth is that nobody, none of us, live in a vacuum.  Einstein once quipped that, and I’m paraphrasing, every day I’m reminded that I’m standing on the shoulders of giants.  He could not have made the advances that he did in science without the advances of the myriad of scientists who came and went before him.  They laid the foundations of science onto which he built, but like silt at the bottom of the ocean, they were building on the foundations of those who came before them. 

I’m writing a book, a horror story, but although I’m doing my level best to make it as original as possible, the reality is that the concepts and ideas came from authors and stories before me.  All art, all science, and all engineering advances are built on what was done before, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Even building on the foundations laid by others, the advances we make are still real, and those advances will become the foundation for those who follow.

No matter what you do, even if it’s something you feel is not creative or constructive, never underestimate the value of your efforts, and the value of yourself.  We all do what we can to contribute, and that contribution matters.  It’s far too easy to look at other people and say, “well, yes, but look what SHE did.”  Be proud of that person, sing her praises, and let her know how impressed you are with what she has accomplished, because I can guarantee you two things.  First, like all of us, she feels like a fraud, and likely has no idea how much people like you admire her and appreciate what she does.  Second, her success does not influence yours.  You are wonderful and admirable in your own right.  Let that shine through.

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