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.
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 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.
Step accuracy (X/Y)
0.1mm to 0.25mm
96DPI (HP C6602)
Currently only Zcorp Gypsum and binder without color (this list will expand)
60mm/s (higher with future firmware)
Up to 30mm per hour (higher with future firmware)
Up to 160W (around 90W average)
Number of motors:
Aluminum and 3D printed plastic
LM8UU on 8mm steel rods
6x NEMA17 stepper motors
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.
The project described on this page is licensed under the Creative commons - Attribution - ShareAlike license.