3DP (3D Inkjet Powder) printer

by dragonator, published

3DP (3D Inkjet Powder) printer by dragonator Sep 15, 2013


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After concluding that Focus lacks vital components for SLS printing, I went to (one of) my backup plans. Converting Focus into a working 3DP printer.

I have now reached a point where I think it is worth sharing.



Focus has been completely discontinued. Focus will no longer be updated or improved.

It was too slow, to unreliable and the piston design was constantly jamming. Also afters seeing that inkjet printing in powder works really well, I decided that Focus was too slow for further experiments. A 5x10x20mm print took over an hour.

Now I haven't given up on this technique. I am currently building a new, faster printer purely aimed at 3DP printing. I have learned a lot from Focus an have implemented a lot of improvement in the new design. It should be running full speed around march 2014. I will make a post on thingiverse, but I might host the files and instructions somewhere else.

End of edit.

Focus is converted so it uses HP C6602 inkjet cartridges. It is currently hooked up so it uses only one nozzle and prints with ordinary Gcode. As soon as I have more results, I will get the right slicers and firmware to print more like a printer, but for now this will do.

It prints with Zcorp powder and binder. This works by printing with binder (water, alcohol and glue) in Powder (glorified gypsum) to make a model. This model is then cleaned and impregnated with CA glue to make the model strong. It works great, but since a new layer currently takes 30 seconds to deposit and I print with only one nozzle, even small things take forever. The maoi is 40 minutes, the creeper 30 minutes. Plans are already being made to make a new printer specially for 3DP powder printing that is at least 30 times faster, but this will take several more months.

I will post a proper video of a 3D print as soon as possible, but for now I just have pictures. I do have a crude video, but my camera ran out of batteries when I tried to make a timelapse of the moai. Have it anyway here:

I do however have a few better videos of Focus printing on paper with ink as some early experiments.

Original picture:

Current prints:
Moai: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:149271
Creeper: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:11825

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Has there been any progress on this project?

It is funny you ask this right now, I am actually about done with the new version of this printer. I won't post in on thingiverse however, it will be on my own site (Ytec3D.com) and on instructables.

Expect this to emerge on the internet but the end of this week.

It works way better than Focus, printing faster, more reliable and more accurate.

How is work going on your new 3DP printer? What areas of your Focus machine are you thinking of improving?

Design is currently done around 50%, but that value can still drop. Focus was slow because I didn't know what movements it would need to make. Also the pistons were somewhat unreliable and would seize after a few hours.

The biggest improvement will be speed. Focus could deposit a new layer in 30 seconds, with the new printer I am expecting it to be at most 5 second. It will print with all 12 nozzles in stead of one and it will print at speeds around 3 times higher than focus. Projected increase is at least 40x. It will be a bit more expensive to build than focus, but it will not top €1000,-. Another improvement will be piston reliability and accuracy. It has proper guidance in stead of the half solution Focus has.

Sadly I am not planning on having a regularly updated blog but I will post it when it is done and I am strongly considering to keep it open source.

Do your control the HP Inkjet Cartridge with an arduino? Do you have some more information about this hack?

I suggest you go to this page, it contains all the information I used:


Incredibly cool project! Nice progress towards alternatives to open source FDM 3d printers. Good luck.
Need another backup alternative? I have some experience with a Solidscape printer. These printers deposit wax layers that are too thick. and are milled to exact layer thickness.