The Z400 blog part 1 – The beginning

Behold the magnificence, a Z400

Hello and welcome to a blog that is a bit different than what I usually do. A repair blog of how I attempt to revive a Zcorp Z400.

Table of content:

Just this page for now

The Zcorp Z400, what is it

With no wikipedia article available, there is not a nifty list of features and when it was released, but here goes:

The Zcorp Z400 is a relatively ancient 3DP (powder and inkjet) printer. The manual is copyrighted 1997-2004, so that puts the Z400 at least at 1997. Hilariously enough the user manual completely fails to mention how big the Z400 can print, but it’s probably around the size of an A4 (200x300mm) by 200ish vertical. Once I know, I will say.

Also quite interesting is that the whole mechanism of the Z400 says ‘robust’ and ‘industrial’ until you reach the printhead gantry. The whole gantry is sheetmetal from an ordinary old inkjet printer that uses Canon BC-20 printheads. The Z400 uses modified versions of this BC-20 that are no longer available, but there are alternatives to make yourself:

The BC-20 heads have no DPI known, but should be 128 nozzles since the manual speaks of 128 jets of binder. Again, will say when I know.

A summary of the Zcorp Z400 is that it is a big standing 3DP printer from the time when 3D printing was unheard of, running an old PC (more on that later) controlled through serial, controlling a hacked Canon inkjet printer to print in powder. There are plenty of motors and pumps and pistons to make it all work, but that is the summary.

Looks nice and robust
Looks like someone hacked an old inkjet printer (they did, not judging)

Why and how I got it

“But Yvo”, I hear you say, “how did you get this Z400?”.

Good question, here is how:

Wonko donated it to me. It has not been running for half a decade and he wanted it somewhere where it might be used. Getting it to my house was quite an adventure, revolving around a too light car, a too big trailer and a town celebrating carnival.

It currently sits at the Tkkrlab in Enschede while I repair it.

What I want with it

Obviously I want an working 3DP printer from a real original 3DP printer builder. And since there are boatloads of patents involved, there are only 2. Zcorp, and the company that bought Zcorp, 3DSystems.

I got into 3DP because I love the concept of 3DP, and my goal is to print ceramics with this. I will investigate other materials, and will continue work on my own 3DP and inkjet adventures, but I also cannot pass the opportunity to get experience with an original printer.

What needs to be done with it

The machine has been sitting still for the past few years and is already old by itself. There is no guarantee that this blog will end at page 2 proclaiming the PC as dead and irreparable. But I will try my best to make the original work, and else replace all that is printer with my own electronics.

This is the short list of what needs to happen before I can even start to print:

  • HDD needs to be tested. If these fail, the printer is dead. (Spoiler alert, I did already make an image of my drive, this still works);
  • Power supplies need to be tested outside the printer (it is a 110V machine);
  • Computer and boards need to be tested. The computer needs to start and run, and the printer needs to want to move at least;
  • Binder lines and printhead ribbon cables need to be tested and or replaced;
  • All movement needs to be checked and lubricated. The build piston probably needs a new seal;
  • Printheads need to be made;

If I did not forget anything, that is what I will need to do before I can start to print. Here is hoping that the machine is still in working order.

Oasis and 2019

It is getting better, 16 people reading this. The last post was in May, only 7 months ago.

Oasis 3DP

The Hackaday prize is done, and so is Oasis. Did I win the contest? Nope, but Oasis is now printing, which is also really important to me. There are still plenty of thing left to do on Oasis. The firmware and software need more work, I need to study materials, I want to be able to sell printhead controllers when everything is more stable, and I do have lines open for better printheads. All things I can do in 2019. These updates will not happen within the first month of 2019, but I am working on it. Oasis for the foreseeable future will only receive small, incremental changes. I do hpe to write a more complete page on Oasis on Ytec in 2019 as well.


What else will I be doing in 2019? The first thing I want to do in 2019 is finish the Turret, mentioned in the previous blog post. This will take me a few months, so do expect a bit of radio silence on that, but I hope to be done before April. I also want to finish the robotic board game, also mentioned in the previous blog. It has less priority, and might not be finished before the end of 2019, but I do hope to finish it in 2019.

There are plenty of other, smaller projects I am currently working on. These range from domotics hardware (I have domoticated my house, and hope to do more with it), some small electronics projects like hexagonal matrix displays, and heat exchangers again. As always, none of this is set in stone, but that is what can be expected in 2019.

I will post more on the site again. I have been more on last year, and might keep doing stuff there as well, but I do have this site, and I like working on it.

Until somewhere next year

I should post more often

I really should, The last post was in 2015. It is not like I am dead or anything, just busy.

On what you might ask, one of the 15 people reading this? Glad you asked. There have been 3 massive project that have taken most of my project time the last year or so. All 3 are still set to be finished somewhere this year (or early next year) and all 3 are awesome. The projects in no particular order are:

Oasis 3D printer

A powder and inkjet 3D printer, 4 years in the making. After I finished Plan B I set myself the goal of making a newer, better’er 3D powder printer with newer hardware. This hardware was the HP45, and this printer was Oasis. In those 4 years I have done a lot of work, but I have failed to make a new 3D printer. Setbacks, feature creep and me being distracted has made sure that no new 3D printer does yet exist. There is good news though. I have entered the Hackaday prize with what I hope to be a real attempt. I have already made it to the finals, so I think I am committed now.

(The printer is actually further than this, but click the hackaday link for that)

Full scale Turret

Did you know we had a turret (running gag at my local hackerspace). For SHA 2017 we (I) wanted something awesome to show off. When we made the decision to make something, I had about a month left. That something that was going to be made was a full scale, opening and closing, talking, watching, shooting turret. To all the people that said that it can’t be done, you are right, but only just. Mechanically it was done, it was shooting, it was moving, it was awesome. It just was not finished. The mechanism jammed, the electronics failed constantly and the software was basically non existent. After spending every waking hour for a month on the Turret, I did not feel like finishing it. Was going to start this March, but then the Hackaday prize happened. The turret will probably be the first thing I will work on after Oasis, and I promise it will be awesome.

Robotic boardgame

The answer when playing roborally and not wanting to move the pieces constantly. This let met to start on one of these ‘a lot bigger than they seem’ projects. To make a robotic playing board that can move pieces in a game of roborally. The game has a gantry with magnets and cardreaders to read the playing cards. It actually moves just fine, only the game rules firmware and the cardreaders are left. The thing that stalled this project was that I moved. If it weren’t for that, I might actually be finished. After moving I wanted to work on something else first. That was the Turret, and then Oasis. This project will probably be finished after the Turret. It does not have the same grandeur as the Turret, but is still really neat.

And now that I have posted and thought about posting more often, it will still probably be a year before I post again. Until then.

Welcome to the family

a new 3D printer

On the right, my current UP! Plus, on the left, my New UP! Mini


Hello accidental clickers of the blog button.

3D printer

The title says it, hello, new 3D printer. I for some dark and mysterious reason won a 3D printer. with what, you might ask? with this: Technically it won in 3 contests, but 2 of those were just runner ups. When I saw I was in the finals, I was thrilled and expected another Instructables shirt, but somehow I won a 3D printer. The printer in question, an UP! mini. A slightly smaller version of the UP! Plus. A welcome addition, because I often have massive under capacity. A lot of 3D printed projects will now print twice as fast. The only issue I have with the new printer is this. It is called the UP! mini, and yet it is larger in size than the UP! plus.


I have been working on a few versions of a hydroponics controller for quite a while now. I did not have real hands on experience with hydroponics, but I reckoned that that would grow with the development of the controller. My hydroponics setup was built and started working, but all work on the hydroponics controller stalled for various reasons. And then I discovered something. You see, my current hydroponics setup is running on just 2 simple timeclocks. Nothing more. No sophisticated sensors, no environmental control. Just… 2… timeclocks.

I am basically banging rocks together here, and somehow, my balcony is now on par with some rain-forests. I will admit, for some time, the system ran like garbage, but once I got decent nutrients, the thing just exploded. Plants everywhere. This leaves me thinking, with diminishing return and everything, just how much more can I get from a controller. Can’t be that much. Maybe I am overthinking this all. I am going to experiment with ordinary hydroponics for a few seasons before I am going to rethink a controller. I need to learn a lot more before I can come up with something relevant. From what I have learned so far, 90% of what you get comes from the nutrient.



In the category things I am more experienced with. Props. The Pip-Boy Mark IV has hit the internet, and boy has it hit. This website was on the point of crashing multiple times, but it never actually did. Yay me. The Fallout 3 Laser rifle is also done, so to all the people that wanted a Laser Rifle, here you go. In light of Fallout 4 it may seem a bit redundant, but I started it way before the Fallout 4 announcements, and I was not throwing it away just because there was going to be a new one.

Now at this point I have no more props on the official Prop list. I am open to suggestions. Always wanted a cosplay prop 3D printable but it is not available. Throw it at me, maybe it will stick. Anything is allowed as a suggestion, books, graphic novels, series, movies, games. Smaller is better because it is easier, but that shouldn’t stop anyone. I heard the Fallout 4 Laser pistol come along, and considering it’ s similarity to the laser rifle from fallout 3, it is worth a thought, but it is a big one, so I also like other ideas. Go to the new forum (see below) and leave a suggestion.

Hand in hand clock

The Hand in hand clock has thus far been the most worthwhile project I’ve had. Not because it did that extremely well by itself, but because it took only 6 days to make. It has won me a bunch of small prizes, and a complete 3D printer. I do have a confession to make about it though. It has been hanging on my wall, but it hasn’t been running in months. I found it too noisy, and with all other projects, I simply did not have the time to make it quieter. I want to do this by adding a DC motor with encoder. These motors have smoother power, and should be orders of magnitude quieter.

I also had people suggest making a skeleton clock version of the Hand in Hand clock, and I really think that would be awesome. I am an engineer. I don’t want minimalist clocks, I want to see gears. I have made a design of it and it and I think it came out really well. I spent a bit more time designing it, so hopefully this version will be a bit easier to assemble. I don’t know when I will actually make it, but I will definitely make this skeleton version.

2015-08-21 23.48.04




Plan B

Plan B is now completely done. No more updates will happen (other than one tiny software update that does not want to work) to anything Plan B related. Plan B has given me invaluable knowledge on 3DP printing, but I can not learn any more from Plan B. It is built as a prototype printer, a platform to perform basic tests on. It has fulfilled it’s purpose, now it can rest. The original Plan B I have is also completely tired. It had numerous upgrades, and has run for more hours than expected. It needs a complete overhaul and with the amount of work that is, that is not going to happen.

While the lessons I learned from Plan B can not be told in just one Blog entry, I have done some major Upgrades in the Year I used it:

  • 3 different controllers, A Megatronics V2, V3 and a homebrew DUE controller. The V2 was replaced by the V3 because some I/O’s burned out. The DUE controller was to give Plan B more speed, which it did quite well.
  • Full firmware streamline to go along with the DUE controller, fully utilizing the additional speed and RAM memory. This made Plan B basically 4x as fast.
  • A spreader upgrade. The original Plan B had a static tube for a spreader. I later replaced it with a rolling spreader, and any next printer will be built with a rolling spreader. It just leaves a better and denser layer. Period.
  • A spotlight. It may not seem like much, but I had Makerfaires to attend to. Light is good. Also, the bed heater broke down, so the halogen spot did some heating.

Ytec has a new Forum. You can find it here:

The forum was replaced because I was fed up with BBPress’ complete lack of any features, and it being incompatible with my theme. Login in was hard to do, and even stopped working from time to time. It had no preview, you couldn’t upload pictures to it and basically nothing was possible other than posting text to it. I now have a shiny new forum running besides WordPress, and even though it is pretty much generic, I like it.

New printer ideas

There are 2 printers I have in the official project planning. One is already in the first stages, one is on the Planning for somewhere early 2016.

The first printer is Tesseract. It is going to be an FDM, but it will be capable of unloading itself due to some stainless steel black magic. Keep an eye on the Forum for more information on that. First experiments will should within a month. After that it should go fast.

The Second printer is Oasis, the next powder printer in the queue. It was originally going to be Iris, but I am saving that one for a printer capable of printing in color. Oasis is going to be cheaper and more versatile in terms of modifiability. I hope that Plan B was the Darwin of the 3DP printers (proof of concept, but not that useful in real life). With that I hope that Oasis will be a Mendel (the basis for all future printers of it’s kind and actually useful by itself). I still need a printhead, and my sights are still on the HP45, so the first thing will be hacking that.


Now that I am moved in

I can finally pick up where I left. Hello to the dozens of people that click (and maybe even read) this page.

I have moved, and now live in the gorgeous Enschede in the east of the Netherlands. I got a new job in this area, and driving the distance every day was not an option. It took me a while to get properly settled (especially the internet, which took a full month), but I am now at a point where I can pick things up again. This means that there will be more projects again.

The first thing I did is already public, a new clock. A clock was missing here, and as a tinkerer, I just had to build one myself. It also marks the ‘I am moved in’ point. First a small tour of the house. I now live in a one room apartment. This is a challenge, because my bedroom is my living room is my workshop, but I made it work. This is where I will do most of my projects, notice how my workspace is under my bed:


I also haven’t been standing still with my hydroponics. I did have the small setback of moving, making the greenhouse I built useless to me. I did manage to get a full setup running on my balcony, which is starting to pick up. I have dutch buckets growing tomatoes, pepper, zucchini, melon and I have a NFT tube growing mostly strawberries, but also a bit of lettuce in the future. Right now, it is controlled by 2 digital timeclocks and some willpower, but with this is the setup I will fine tune my hydroponics controller.

The hydroponics controller also had a setback. I started last winter, with an Arduino Mega powered hydroponics controller, with tons of features, and a gorgeous graphical display. Then, when the winter came and the project slowed down a bit, I had an epiphany. People who run hydroponics don’t need a controller with tons of features capable of running a commercial sized greenhouse. They need something cheap and simple. I have binned the old controller mostly, and started from scratch with an Arduino Uno, and a smaller, simpler shield. The interface is simpler, using only a simple 2×16 display, and the features are a bit more limited. The biggest challenge now is fitting all remaining features on the tiny programming space of the Uno. I am at 31% of the programming space, with EEPROM, outputs, PH, EC, temperature, environment and water level remaining.

The information on the Hydroponics page of this site is now outdated. I will see if I can change it some time soon.

Hydroponics comparison

On the left, the new one, on the right, the partially stripped old one.

The difference in GUI, going from a graphic lcd to a alphanumerical one

Plan B

Plan B has been starting and stopping for the past year now, but no real progress has been made. Part of this is me not being the guy to experiment with materials, part of it is me having other interests, and part of it the biggest bottleneck of 3DP printing, the printhead. The thing I have been working on is a faster controller, based on the DUE, but since the last post, nothing has happened to that. I hope to make a controller that I can sell kits of, but design on the PCB has stalled for various reasons. I hope to finish work on the new controller when I finish the hydroponics controller and when the makerfestival this weekend is done.

I have also done a lot of conceptual work and concept tests on the next printer, Project the 3rd. The keywords will be cheap and updatability. It will be a cheap platform for the technique to grow on. Plan B was like the Darwin of Reprap printers (clunky and limited, but working), I hope to make the 3rd like the Mendel, so the 4th can be full color by default. Work will not start on that for months, but the staring point is a printhead I have had here for a month or so now.

Side project

There is also a side project I have been working on. It is labeled a low priority long term project, meaning that it will progress very slowly and with no rush at all (unlike the clock). It is the Laser Rifle from fallout, 3D printable and with working reloading mechanism, sound and laser. I have about 30 hours in the design so far, and shape wise it is mostly done. I only need to design the reloading mechanism and optimize for 3D printing. Designing is going to take at least 10 more hours. Printing is currently estimated at 50-80 hours and 2kg of plastic, painting at 20 hours. It may still take months to complete, it having no priority and everything, but I hope to finish this one. It has been requested and next to the Pip-Boy, is the most popular Fallout prop. Plus, it would look wicked mounted to my wall together with my laser pistol.



More SPEED!!!

Now that is a catchy title.

Plan B

A faster DUE based controller for Plan B is now in prototype phase. It has most of the features of a Megatronics V3, including most of the pinouts (but not all). This controller was made to get the printing speed of Plan B up to acceptable levels. With huge amounts of ram memory for buffering, and a fast, 32bit, 84MHz processor, it is orders of magnitude faster than the 8bit 16MHz Atmega 2560 the Previous controller ran on.

This new controller may get a version that is for sale. This can not only be used for Plan B, but in theory should also be usable for normal 3D printers. This might happen, but it will depend on demand and cost. Schematics and sources will be posted regardless of a version for sale.

The controller comes together with more updates and improvements. A small list of improvements:

  • Speed firmware upgrade, now printing at 150mm/s (Done)
  • Double direction printing properly implemented (Done)
  • Rolling spreader upgrade (Done)
  • Acceleration for spreader motion (Done)
  • Select files from SD card (In Progress)
  • Make Plan B converter software stand alone (Pending)

Have a video printing a single layer. First I will go to Groningen with it, then I will post the files and upgrades for a faster Plan B, and perhaps I will make a controller for sale.


I will be on the Maak Festival (maker faire) in Groningen (the Netherlands), 12 April 2015 ( If you want to see Plan B in person or want to talk, Groningen will be the place.

Also I will attend the Maker Festival Twente. It is in Enschede (also the Netherlands), 30 and 31 May 2015. (


I am moving to Enschede May this year. This means that: 1, I have more space for bigger projects but 2, I will be quite busy for a while, and so site support and projects will move a bit slower for a while.

Geodesic greenhouse

I have build a geodesic greenhouse. I might make it a page on this site, it will appear at some point on instructables. I was planning on using it for Hydroponics experiments, but I will not be using it myself. I am moving, right after I finish it. My parents will use it the old fashioned way. It is almost done, but here’s a picture of it.

Ignore the beam in the middle, that will be fixed later.

Ignore the beam in the middle, that will be fixed later.

Hydroponics controller

I was working on a hydroponics controller. I have gotten some doubts about the execution of the project since I started on it, fearing that it is overly complicated, but it is now a workable machine. The problem is that I am going to move, and the greenhouse I built for my hydroponics setup is not coming with me. I am moving to an apartment with a nice balcony, so I will take some space from that to place my plants. Updates when they happen perhaps.


The controller and all of the stuff Related with hydroponics, like PH and EC sensors, and pumps.




A Happy New year

Hello to the roughly 300 people that have clicked this link.

It is now officially 2015, and while still a very tiny amount of people read this blog, I wanted to write something. 2015 has some nice things planned, and I wanted to share these potential projects with anyone who accidentally clicked this link.

3D printers

First of is the next Plan B (project Iris for now). This one has hit a snag. I am forced to wait on people more skilled at software and electronics who are busy with the CN642A or other printheads. A lot of great people have started hacking, and after the first bit of information was shared, I knew one thing. I am going to be useless helping hacking this thing. Communication happens with huge speed and with electronics that are beyond my skill. So for now, I am stuck waiting on progress made by other people before I can start work on project Iris again. When people have successfully hacked the CN642A, I will divert all my available resources back to 3DP printing. Until then I have some other things planned.

One of the two main projects planned is a better form of DLP printing. That is all I can share for now, I will have to play my cards pretty close to my chest for now. There are things I need to figure out before I will share all of it. Rest assured that everything will remain open source, though patents may occur.


The second big project is Hydroponics. There was already a page on this (though it is terribly outdated) with rough explanations. Short summary, it is growing plants (mostly fruits and vegetables) in a soil-less environment, where the water carries all of the oxygen and nutrients. This technique is a lot more efficient with water and fertilizer than conventional growing. You might not guess it from the other content of the site, but I actually like growing plants. I also like building electronics, and I like efficiency, so this project is perfect for me. Programming is happening as we speak, I will post when interesting things have happened.

Some specs of the controller are:

  • Arduino Mega 2560 controller;
  • Graphic LCD with rotary encoder switch input;
  • RTC built in;
  • SD card support for logging and complex settings;
  • 12 outputs (4 mosfet outputs @12V, 8 relay outputs on connector);
  • 2 bidirectional DC motors (for peristaltic pumps);
  • 4 servo motors support;
  • I2C support;
  • DS1820 support (accurate temperature sensor);
  • 10K thermistor support (cheap temperature sensor);
  • 3x Analog inputs for PH and EC sensor;
  • Additional ports for auxiliary functions (such as fish feeders or weather monitoring);



Props and sideprojects

Without my UP!, I have no real printer to make props. I do have a borderlands prop planned, but that one has no priority right no with no good 3D printer. There are also side projects, such as RC projects, and things I don’t know of right now.

That is roughly what is going to happen this year. I wish everyone on the forum, and everyone in general a happy new year, and until next time.


My 3D printer broke

This one died

This one died, which sucks, like, a lot.

This one is being repaired right now to give me 3D printing back.

This one is being repaired right now.

My UP! Plus that I got last year broke. This sucks, I really liked my printer, I made almost all of my stuff on this printer. There is currently no backup for the UP! plus, this means that all projects that require 3D printing are delayed until further notice. No props, no Plan B improvements and no 3rd generation 3DP until I get a 3D printer working.  I will see if I can get one of my old 3D printer, the Mendel V2 (a generation 2 relic) to work, but it might take a few weeks. I will see if I still have warranty on the UP!, otherwise I will refit the entire printer with open source electronics.


The forum is running almost a month now, and there are 4 active users excluding me. A big forum might look at this and laugh, but it makes me smile. There is however an issue. However, the login is not perfect and was recently fixed because loging in was impossible (now it is possible again though). I added an active preview, but it caused some issues on smartphones and left html things in the posts. It was removed yesterday. If there are any suggestions on improving the forum, please tell me. I am convinced that it can be better.

Plan B BOM updates

I forgot the flags on the BOM. They have been added. Also a few nuts and bolt appear to be slightly too short, I will try to fix this soon. Also Important, the M8 threaded rods had some discrepancies. The bom said 185, while the drawing said 130 (it was 130mm). I now fixed this. Another warning.

Apologies if it caused any inconvenience and if you have more flaws or mistakes in the files, please contact me, either through the contact form or the (now fixed) forum.


While it is still in it’s early concept stage, I want to start with my first medium scale hydroponics setup coming spring, but I don’t want a standard system. While that would be fun, it would also be slightly uninteresting, especially for this site. I want to have it fully automated, or at least as automated as I can make it. This means automatic PH, water level, temperature and EC monitoring and adjusting. I have started with some sensors needed to run a system like this. I will make a page for my hydroponics and subpages for different parts of the system. I will still be working on 3D printers and most notably the next gen powder printer, but I need side-projects and I hope this will be a good one. Also with my UP! out of the running the hydroponic parts are nice 3D printerless projects.

A capacitive fluid level sensor, a contact free, solid state way of measuring a fluid level, has already been made for the system. More will follow the coming months.

Plan B experiments

With the FDM printer out of the running, all Improvement projects are delayed. I might as well use this time to start some experiments with other powders. A few things I want to try are:

  • sugar and meringue
  • Ceramic and maltodextrine
  • Gypsum and maltodextrine

All will be bound with a water alcohol mix. The nice thing about all of these powders is that they cost less than €10/kg. Posts will be made when there is success.

This site has a FORUM?

Up until a week ago, that would have been a no, now it has one. Hello the few but more than 1 people who will read this blog.


I know of a few people who have started work on a plan B. I have had a few people who have offered to help with both Plan B and future projects. I am really happy with this help and support and hope I can help create something here. To keep the knowledge gathered from this out of my mailbox and get it on the magical place that is the internet, I have opened a forum. I hope I can gather a group of active people who will help me prevent my forum from becoming yet another forum on the internet with an update frequency of only once every 3 months.

The forum exists for a few reasons.

  1. I have my prop projects. These are somewhat more popular than my functional projects, and I know of a lot of people making these, or buying them from other people. I LOVE to see what you have made. There will be a topic for each prop, where hopefully you will be so kind to share pictures and tips of the prop you have made. (Also suggestions would be great here)
  2. To gather all the information that is acquired on 3DP printing (and perhaps other powder and 3D printing techniques?) in one clear place. All knowledge here will be bundled up into the next generation(s) of open source 3DP printers. Work is already begun on the 3rd generation and technical input would be great here.
  3. To ask questions about the site in general, specific content and future additions to the site (like the shop (still in progress)).

Find it here:

3rd generation 3DP printers

Focus was a prove of concept for powder printing in general. It proved that 3DP printing was a viable technique for hobbyists. Plan B was a prove of concept for 3DP printing, it was built on existing and hacked technology to prove 3DP printing was really capable of producing parts. Now it is time to design something that can actually work for makers and artists. This printer will not be here next week, it will not be here next month, but I hope to have it next year.

I already gave a list of reasons why 3DP printing is still interesting. Full color, no support, reuse powder, varied materials. There is one other reason I forgot to mention. Cheap. 3DP printing powders can be made for as little as €2/kg (gypsum, sugar and maltodextrin). Binder can be made for as little as €5/liter (water and isopropyl). The only expensive part is post processing, but that can also be fairly cheap if you get the CA at the right place.

Some requirements for this new printer:

  • Be at most €1500,- for a kit and €2000,- assembled;
  • Full color compatible, for 3DP this means 5 colors;
  • Be made as much as possible from of off the shelf parts;
  • Be as user friendly as possible;
  • Faster than Plan B, as fast as FDM printing.

The most important part on this printer will be the printhead. 5 colors with more nozzles, preferably not requiring any modification. There is only one printhead at this point which meets all requirements, the CN642A. This week I got my first printhead for hacking. I will start hacking shortly. The internet will probably know when I have succeeded.

You can find a more frequently and thorough updated progress report at the forum:

The 3rd generation printhead to be (hopefully)

The 3rd generation printhead to be (hopefully)


As some people will see now, every project page on the site has a license. At the end of each project there is this:



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

This means that if you want to use any information gathered from Ytec3D, you are completely free to do whatever you want with it. There are however 2 conditions.

  1. You will need to provide a link to the information gathered here and state that this is where this information (like files and knowledge) came from here;
  2. You need to post whatever you did with this information under the same license.

Do this, and you are completely free to do whatever you like. Sell it, improve it, modify it, (deprove it?). Don’t do this, and depending on what and where it is, it might be taken down. (I did it before, I’d rather not though)


Plan B update blog

Plan B is live, response has been mostly positive. Tuesday 19 August I posted Plan B on the internet. It had been a year in the making at that point, but I finally was happy enough with it to post it. It still needs many improvements, but I can make those in good time, and maybe there will be more people from this point onward.  I will tag some Blog posts with Plan B from here on out, for the people that want to stay updated on Plan B, but don’t care about the rest.

Just how strong are these prints anyway,

I had people asking me how strong these prints are. I have destroyed 2 prints, just to satisfy anyone curious. (I hope you are happy now)

I first loaded up the torus with 14kg. This was held without any sight of damage. Then I found someone (around 70kg) willing to stand on the part. The part broke, but only after the person applied the full weight. Then I found a misprinted vase. The person also stood on that. The same thing happened. It didn’t hold, but only after full weight was on the part.

I am quite surprised at the strength of the part, though I am a bit sad that the torus broke (I will print a new one soon). These parts are made of gypsum, glued with CA. Neither have remarkable mechanical properties.

In short. The parts are quite strong. Maybe with the current materials not FDM printed ABS strong, but drop onto concrete from few meters without damage strong. More exact data will follow as I will do some more exact testing on strength in the coming few months.

I tried to improve the speed once, it was awful,

I tried to speed up the printer to 120mm/s. While mechanically this is a piece of cake (the printer had no trouble moving at 120mm/s) the electronics didn’t like it quite as much. The result was missing steps and thick lines at some points. The problem is that the Atmega 2560 with the current firmware simply can’t keep up. It can’t change the on/off state of the nozzles fast enough. In the future, there will either have to be: Better firmware, a better microcontroller or more of them running different functions in the printer.

Finally the Arduino haters out there have some reason to hate it (like they didn’t have it before).

I personally love Arduino, despite it’s flaws. The pure simplicity of the system has made Plan B possible, only now it is probably time to get something a bit more powerful.

When will stuff be for sale

People asked if and when stuff will be for sale. For people in Europe this can be quite soon, USA and the rest of the world maybe not (I don’t know shipping cost yet). Upon request I can have a few sets manufactured in maybe a week. Getting other materials is also a mater of ordering parts or printing them. The only thing is the boost demultiplexer circuit. I have a shipment of circuit boards currently in transit. When I receive these and they work, I can make complete functional kits. I can’t give exact cost of one kit, but it will be in the neighbourhood of €1000,-.

Please bear in mind that Plan B is an experimental printer. You are buying a prototype, a first generation. It will not work instantly, it will not work constantly, you will have to tweak a lot of things and do a lot of experimenting with materials. With that you can help making it better for future generations of printers. If after that demotivating speech there is still anyone who wants one, contact me. If I receive enough serious requests I will order a shipment of parts and either open a shop or get a local 3D printer part supplier to sell them.

Planned things:

With Plan B finally live, I am finally able to relax a bit. The past few weeks I worked really hard getting everything done. I will now calmly move on with some experiments I didn’t want to do without Plan B being posted.

Upgrading the spreader to a smaller diameter and make it rotating. I think some issues with the layers breaking up are caused by the spreader having too great a diameter. This pushed too hard on the previous layers. I am going to design a smaller and rotating spreader that can be made without a lathe. If this helps I will post all files and things required.

Ceramics printing. In the materials, I talk about printing in ceramics powder that can be fired in a kiln. I hope to do this as soon as possible. I will order ceramics powder, Maltodextrin and a bottle of sake and I will find a place nearby that has a kiln to fire the parts. I will show the results as soon as it is here.

I have looked around looking for a printhead with more colours and more resolution. Plan B will not be able to hold these parts, but perhaps a future 3DP printer will be able to hold this. The printhead in question is: “hp cn642a” It has an unknown amount of nozzles, at least 300DPI and 4-5 printheads. I also know several suppliers who sell empty CISS (Continuous Ink Supply System) cartridges for this printhead, making the conversion step a thing of the past. At this point I have no idea how the nozzle control even works, but given the fact that there are 38 contacts on the back, I doubt that there is any microchips in there, making control fairly straight forward.

With this I can make a printer that can print in full colour. The firmware can’t handle it yet, the software can’t handle it yet, the hardware can’t handle it yet, but I will try and make it happen regardless.


Input from you people

I am open to input from anyone reading this. What do you want to see printed? What do you want to know about the material? What do you want to see improved? What do you want to see tested? I can’t promise I will do everything, but I will try as hard as I can to help.