The impact of droplets onto a substrate in ink-jet printing is critical for control and optimization of the droplet deposition process to improve part quality and accuracy and to reduce the manufacturing time. However, most previous research on droplet impingement dynamics mainly utilized one metric — the droplet spreading radius, which does not provide enough information for manufacturing purposes. This paper presents a new metric that is relevant to manufacturing by characterizing the droplet shape by measuring the similarity between the droplet shape and a desired shape over time. This enables a model of droplet shape evolution and optimization of the droplet deposition process to build desired geometries. Meanwhile, analyses with this shape metric aids understanding the physics of droplet shape evolution during impingement. A 2-D shape metric is first proposed and test cases are given to validate the effectiveness of the shape metric. Then the definition is extended to characterize 3-D droplet shape. Results also show the 3-D shape metric is effective and robust.

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