Plan B

Plan B is an open source 3DP 3D printer, printing in powder with a special binder. It is made with ordinary 3D printer parts, of the shelf inkjet technology and a Laser or Water cut aluminum frame. It has a resolution of 96DPI (roughly 0.26mm per dot) and costs around €1000,- to make.

 

P1050545

 

3DP printing

3DP printing looks a lot like ordinary inkjet printing, the only difference being the third dimension. It uses a special powder stored in several hoppers and binder stored in either the cartridge or a separate tank. First the printer adds a thin layer of fresh powder on a special bed (buildbed) that can lower. A inkjet head prints thin cross sections of a 3D model in the powder with binder. When a layer is done, the buildbed lowers by a fraction and a new layer is deposited. Then the process is repeated until the part is complete.

After printing the 3D printed parts need to be carefully depowdered. This is a delicate procedure, since the part is only lightly bound yet. To prevent damage on the part, air is used to blow the part clean. Most parts require post processing in the form of infusing with CA glue or epoxy, or firing in a kiln. Only after this will the parts reach their final strength.

 

 Pros and cons

3DP has the several advantages over FDM printing:

  • Higher accuracy due to finer and more controllable nozzles. Even old and dated cartridges have a higher resolution (>96DPI, 0.26mm) than most FDM printers;
  • No support material is needed. All parts are always supported by the powder from the previous layers;
  • Excess material can be reused;
  • 3DP has the potential to be faster than FDM. 3DP prints with more nozzles with simpler movements than FDM. Plan B isn’t yet though;
  • 3DP offers a few unique materials and options for 3D printing.
    • It has the possibility print full color in gypsum and powdered sugar;
    • It can print in ceramic powder that makes models that can be fired in a kiln;
    • By binding in stainless steel powder a model can be created that can be infused with bronze in a kiln;
    • It should also be possible to bind graphite powder into a model that can be infused with epoxy, making graphite (carbon) parts;
    • 3DP can print in almost any material that can be supplied as a powder.

 

Disadvantages of 3DP printing are:

  • Due to the powder, 3DP printing is messy;
  • Parts require post processing. Before processing, the parts are weak and brittle;
  • Powder printers need to be filled completely to work;
  • 3DP can only print in one material at a time;
  • Hollow parts need escape holes to evacuate excess powder;
  • Thin walls and rods are weak and might break during cleaning.

 

Plan B

Plan B is currently only capable of 3D printing in gypsum that is used by Zcorp printers without colors. Experiments are on the way to expand the list of materials with ceramics and graphite powders. Also an effort is going to be made to make the current material more open source friendly. there aren’t very many companies selling this powder, and even less selling it for decent prices.

 

Specs

Printing

Buildbox dimensions:
Layer thickness:
Inkjet resolution:
Build material:
Step accuracy (X/Y)
Speed:
Printing speed:
Power consumption:

150mmx150mmx100mm (l x w x h)
0.1mm to 0.25mm
96DPI (HP C6602)
Currently only Zcorp Gypsum and binder without color (this list will expand)
0.05mm
60mm/s (higher with future firmware)
Up to 30mm per hour (higher with future firmware)
Up to 160W (around 90W average)

Construction

Printer dimensions:
Printer weight:
Frame material:
Linear guides:
Number of motors:

Features:

550mmx350mmx450mm (l x w x h)
16kg
Aluminum and 3D printed plastic
LM8UU on 8mm steel rods
6x NEMA17 stepper motors

LCD screen
Keypad with rotary encoder
SD card reader

 Improvement of Plan B

Plan B has several improvements over Focus.

  • Dual feed hopper design and driven spreader increase the speed of the new layer process significantly;
  • The motors are removed from the moving parts, giving the gantry a higher speed and accuracy;
  • The aluminum frame is stiffer, thinner and makes the frame heatable (all fragile parts are thermally insulated from the frame);
  • Better piston guidance gives the Z-axis more accuracy and reliability;
  • The frame can be manufactured on a lasercutter or a flowjet.

 

Building and using Plan B

The instructions on building Plan B are way too big to fit on just one page. Click the button to go to the full assembly and use instructions. Here you will find what you will need, how to configure Plan B, how to modify cartridges and how to print with Plan B. Information on these pages may change or new pages with new information may appear, so check back every once in a while.

Plan B build button

Gallery

 

License

by-sa

The project described on this page is licensed under the Creative commons - Attribution  - ShareAlike license.

32 Comments

  1. Thank you and outstanding work.

    Two quick questions-
    1.) in the BOM on page 3/5, you call out for T2.5 timing belt (1.8m) & (2.4m). In the # column, you have 1,8, 2,4 and 2,4 . Am I correct in believing that you are calling out 1.8m and 2.4 m of belt total?

    2.) in the BOM on page 5/5, you call out the Megatronics V3 control board. Are you using any special parts of the V3 board? OR will V2 work?

    • Two quick answers:
      1.) The timing belts are indeed the total lengths required. 6.6m total is what you will need for all timing belts combined.
      2.) There is nothing specific used on the V3 that isn’t on the V2, but someone decided that the V3 would have completely different pin mapping. The firmware needs to be modified to run on V2, a quite extensive process I also did when I went from V2 to V3. So the answer, a V2 would work, but modification is required for that.

  2. Can you describe the process by which a printed part can be infused with epoxy or resin to make a workable part (if at all). For example, if I were to print a part that is meant to part of a machine (say a gear), what is the process to make it durable enough to be put into service. I can imagine creating molds out of simple parts for injection molding, or for casting, but a complex part may not be so.

  3. This is probably the best OpenSource project in quality I have ever seen. From an easy to read web site over great and professional plans to – as far as I can tell – complete and detailed documentation.

    Well, you have a follower now. I just ordered the aluminum frame from CutWorks. Tomorrow I will order the remaining parts. Looking forward to assembling and testing.

    – Matt

    • I will, but colour will take a full redesign of just about everything. If I do it it will probably be in a completely new printer.

        • There aren’t any RGB (it would actually be Cyan, Magenta and Yellow) cartridges for full colour for the C6602, it is too old for that. Also adding more cartridges would take too much space. They are 3cm wide each. You would need 5 cartridges for a 3DP printer: Clear, Black, Cyan, Magenta and Yellow.

          So sadly no, it is not possible to simply add another cartridge. I am going to investigate a different printhead that does have all the required functions for full colour printing, but that will require me to do a full hack, because there is no documentation whatsoever on that one. That one also won’t be a feature for Plan B, it will be built on a new printer.

          • You said that you were going to investigate in non resivour print heads, the ones that have a little tube going to them, that could be much more compact, and maby you could fit it on the printhead holder?

          • You are correct, but those are still not narrow enough to fit on Plan B. Once I discovered that it would take 5 cartridges (which is just too much) I designed it to hold only 1. The toolhead width is 3cm max. Any more than that and the spreader would hit the printhead.

            The printhead I have in mind (hp cn642a) will not be narrow enough. Also the electronics on Plan B don’t have the calculatory power to handle more than 1 cartridge (it barely handles the C6602 at 60mm/s).

            Plan B is already at it’s limitation on just about every level. It can print, but it lacks the power to handle much more nozzles and speed. It also can not be heated with enough control and there are motors that could be removed in a future version. I learned unbelievably much from it but it will not be the 3DP revolution, it will just be a stepping stone. Plans are already being made for a better, cheaper and faster 3DP printer that does have support full colour.

            The only big improvements I will probably make (unless someone give me an idea for something important) are better printing materials, but that knowledge also migrates to a new printer.

          • The hp cn642a may need a lot of work with a logic analyzer to get going, but without the plastic, it does’t ooh very big at all.

  4. I love what you’re working on. I have a Z Corp. 450 printer and I agree with you that the consumables are far too expensive.

    I discovered that the eBay seller of the third-party powder is an engineer located in Canada. He sells the powder, and you can see his site at Canada powder.com. I’m not connected with him, I talked to him on the phone and he sounds okay. I actually haven’t used his powder yet. I ordered the previous iteration, and haven’t got around to using it.

    I have an idea that takes your open source powder layering system. I own a Epilog laser, and I was thinking couldn’t it be adapted so that the two go together?

    There’s a new Kickstarter project, that’s supposed to be released in October, that does this concept. They are in Europe as well, sintratec.com, which will be doing exactly what I just wrote about.

    • I looked at the Canadian manufacturer and while his powders seem great in their properties I still find it excessively expensive. It is a great addition to possible powder and binder suppliers though.

      About the use of a CO2 laser cutter, you might also find this interesting: http://www.andreasbastian.com/opensls/
      He has already managed to make great prints.

      The thing that still intrigues me is High speed sintering (google it), using black ink and plastic powder with a IR heater to print parts. While my first research direction will be ceramic 3D printing, it is high on my list, due to the fact that it requires (hopefully) little modification.

    • I do, Gladly, they put all their patents in their user manuals.
      5204055, 5340656, 5387380, 6007318, 6375874, 5902441, 6416850, 6610429 and 6403002.

      The internet claims that US6007318 is the key patent and it expires in December 2016. I have taken a quick look at all of these patents and most of these actually are about copy pastes of each other, so I am not sure.

  5. I *LOVE* etymology, the history of a word, how it gets it’s meaning, the story behind names, etc…

    Trademark laws very region to region, in some areas you could name your MP3 player “eyePod” with no legal issues at all, other places you couldn’t even name your optometry practice that because the judges say it is too close to a well known brand and could cause confusion. (In some places, you can even get away with selling your MP3 player as “iPod” because you are a tax paying resident and Apple is not, even if they registered the trademark in that region first. It’s not LEGAL but enforcement is the most important part of any law) On the flip side, if the phrase is too common, it can be denied for that–you can’t trademark the word “Tire” if you make automobile wheels. But dragonator is right, you won’t get shot down because it’s also the name of an abortion pill. A quick Google search for Plan B comes up with a Skateboard brand first. Trademarks are for unique business segments–going back to the iPod example, Apple had to say what types of business it wanted to associate it’s mark for (computers, consumer electronics, mobile phones, etc.). Since they never registered it as a food product, you could try to trademark a pizza as “iPod” since the Apple iPod trademark has nothing to do with food items. (You might get a judge say “no, you’re obviously trying to capitalize on someone else’s success” because that’s what the judge’s job IS, and Apple’s lawyers will send you a C&D because that’s their job, but the law doesn’t say you can’t use the word iPod for pizza.)

    The genesis of the name is GREAT–it tells a story (evolution from the Focus project), and that gives the product personality at first blush. *I* walk away with “Well, a 3D Systems printer is a $40k Plan A, this is a $2k Plan B” Great work, if I had few grand laying around I’d start building one! Have you looked at kickstarting a production run? I’d drop a dollar in the tip jar for all your hard work!

    • While trademark will not be a problem for me selling Plan B, Patents are a bit more of an issue. Starting a kickstarter now would mean the same issues the Form 1 had. I would need to settle with 3D systems on a license. Also with the current design, quantity hardly brings down cost. It would have to be designed around manufacturing. So any kickstarter is still at least months, maybe a year or two away, if it happens at all. Not to mention Plan B still needing more improvements.

      I’d consider it, but not right now.

    • I am fully well aware what Plan B ALSO means. I was aware way, WAY before I even thought of posting it and honestly I don’t care, I like the name, because I know how it came to get this name. Plan B also means dozens of other things. Changing it is not going to happen, not under any circumstance. I don’t think you fully understand how trademarking works and what the goal of plan B is.

      But thanks for pointing it out and the compliment at the end.

    • I will post a video of me trying to destroy print in a later future (within a month-ish?). I will try and load a dumbbell weights on a part I printed so far and make a picture of it, so you can at least get an idea.

      Just for the information. Parts are quite strong, None of the parts can be broken by hand. While I don’t know about impact strength, static strength is fairly good (on the same level as PLA or ABS). Infiltrating with better glue (like epoxy) will make the parts even stronger.

      But more information on this subject will follow in the future.

  6. Hello,

    Great job and very well documented !! IMO your project have really raising the bar in open-source additive manufacturing. Seem like software is becoming the bottle neck for many creative 3d printer projects, hopefully someone with expertise in this domain would get involved. Crowd-funding might be a good option for this in near future, at least I know I will try to help support your project ;)

    There’re many thought-provoking in Improvement and future printers section. I really like your vision about SHS, this machine got so many material possibilities waiting to be explore, gypsum, ceramic, polymers, metals and anything powder.

    Glad to see your project come to life.

    All the best,
    Infinite

  7. Wow! Great work!

    I’ve been following your work since you first released the Focus. I started on a design for my own 3DP machine based off Focus since. Hopefully releasing it in the next month or so.

    Shoot me an email when you get a chance, I’d like to chat with you more in depth about some of your future ideas as they align with a lot of my own interests.

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