Depowdering station

Cleaning parts coming from Plan B can be a very messy job. At some point I decided that no longer would I do it outside. I built a special chamber that allows me to clean parts without flooding any room with powder. This way I can clean parts in any room at any time.

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Materials

To make this contraption, you will need:

  • A clear plastic box with a decent lid;
  • Rubber gloves;
  • A smaller box with a airtight lid (I used a measuring cup);
  • A pack of wipes (used as a dust filter);
  • Air tube;
  • A hollow needle;
  • Thicker tube for the over pressure evacuation;
  • Air pump with matching power supply;
  • A grate with fine holes;

Making it

First  cut holes in the side for the gloves. Use hot glue to glue the gloves in the holes. Try to make it as airtight as possible. Cut a small hole in the front for the air input line and a larger hole for the overpressure evacuation line. Run the air tube through the wall of the box and leave enough on the outside to connect the air pump. On the inside, leave enough of the air tube to hold it comfortably. Attach the hollow needle at the end of the air tube. At the bottom of the large box is a aluminum grate to let the powder settle to the bottom without being in the way of the part being cleaned. Use spacers to create some distance between the bottom of the box and the grate.

having just the air in line would create an overpressure. If this is left the way it is, powder and air will leak from the seams in the lid. Use a thicker tube to run from the main box to the smaller box. Jam a wipe between the lid and the box to create a very rudimentary air filter. Drill holes in the bottom of the small box to let the air escape. With this the air has a way to escape the box without leaking powder in the air.

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Using it

To use it, place a part, as clean as possible, in the box. Putting the part on a small piece of paper will make it a lot easier to rotate the part.  Connect the power supply to the air pump and put your hands through the gloves. Use the needle to blow air on all pieces that contain unbound powder. The air will dislodge all of the unbound powder but will leave all of the bound powder.

Future improvements

A depowdering station like this is used in all professional powder printers but there is one huge difference between those and this one. The professional ones have a forced under pressure in the chamber, drawing all the floating powder away. This is better in all ways. The reason why I didn’t  do this is fairly simple, I didn’t have a pump with a vacuum line, only one with a pressure line. In the future I might upgrade this depowdering station with a forced under pressure in stead of a simple overpressure evacuation.

2 Comments

  1. Search around, and you can find adequate shop-vacs for $15-$20, and even the smallest ones have plenty of suction for small volumes. If you put some kind of cyclone separator inline, you could recycle the powder, too.

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