PowderMaker1 3DP printer

Powder and inkjet printing
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Joined: Fri Apr 26, 2019 10:38 am

Re: PowderMaker1 3DP printer

Post by maxt » Fri Apr 26, 2019 2:12 pm

hello, this is my first post on this fantastic forum, and I take the chance to explain why I'm here. I'm operating a 3DS Projet 660 since a few years, so I have quite a bit hands on experience with this technology. Problem is that this printer (the one I own) sucks so much that I'm seriously considering developing my own.

This PowderMaker1 design show here looks really nice, I'm wondering what commercial price level are you aiming at, and when you think it would be ready for sales, even single modules (e.g. heads controller)

A couple of advices though:
1. the main problem of these printers is, as dragonator points out, the powder. 80% of the issues of the 660, and half ot the aborted prints, are due to the powder going litterally everywhere, dirtying electric contacts, ruining printheads, falling from the axes and making a rough build surface. So don't underestimate the powder mess... in particular, the desing is missing a sort of cover that protects to some extent the room were the printer operates.

2. build volume. These printers have three axes, the Y axis (where the printheads move) is the fastest and should be the largest dimension, as it is in your design. The X axis is the slow axis, and should be the second largest dimension. The Z axis is by far the slowest, and should be the smallest dimension.

In this case the difference between X and Z axis is only 1cm, so not a big deal, but consider inverting the X and Z sizes if you still can. Every print job you will do will always be oriented so that largest dimension is along the Y axis and the smallest on the Z axis, because doing otherwise can turn a 2 hours job into a 15 hours job, printing the same part !

3. consider a vacuum system. The build volume is deep enough that you wont be able to extract the parts without it.

Now something about the materials:
for the powder I suggest you to start with 3dsystems PXL, at least for the experimental stages. It's really the only one that spreads really smoothly. If you can't spread that one smoothly you know you have to fine tune the spreader, while with normal plaster you may not know if the issue is the roller or the plaster. It costs a fortune but has the proper granulometry mix and, especially, the grains (I have a few microscope photos I'll post later) are fairly smooth, nearly spherical (as opposed to the plaster you can buy at LeroyMerlin or similar places) and spread really smooth. I suspect this is the main reason for the high cost.

for the liquids, transparent: just plain demineralized water added with the necessary percentage of IPA will do. I use this since long time and half an hour after the print is completed the parts are perfectly cured and hard, they do not even need to be infiltrated with CyanoAcrilate, which is otherwise mandatory using the usual mix of water/glicerine/surfactant. Getting rid of CA is a big, big, BIG advantage.

I can't tell you the % of IPA because it is head dependant, if your head could print pure water, pure water would be perfectly OK, because IPA is only necessary to render the necessary viscosity and surface tension for the head to jet, but the solvent (for plaster/PXL) is just the water.

For colors is a bit more complex ;) , it requires procuring inkjet color (amazon is fine) and to find the right dilution with water. That's it....

good luck with the project, seems really promising

Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Apr 26, 2019 10:38 am

Re: PowderMaker1 3DP printer

Post by maxt » Tue Apr 30, 2019 10:41 am


here's a photo of the "official" powder grains taken with an electronic microscope. See the surfaces are fairly smooth (within reason) which gives a very appropriate rehology.

kind regards, Massimo
powder.jpg (387.92 KiB) Viewed 92 times

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Re: PowderMaker1 3DP printer

Post by dragonator » Tue Apr 30, 2019 4:16 pm

How does this "official" powder behave compared to what I have in Oasis right now.

The stuff in Oasis is an older Zcorp "official" gypsum. If you just pour it it can keep angles between 45 and 60 degrees, but is loosely bound. It can then be compressed to what feels like between 2/3 and 1/2 its original size. Based on this behavior I always though that the powder would be exceptionally jagged. Once packed, it retains it shape up to 90 degrees of angle (straight up) without much hassle. When dropped it creates a fine mist of powder containing the smallest particles.

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Joined: Fri Apr 26, 2019 10:38 am

Re: PowderMaker1 3DP printer

Post by maxt » Wed May 01, 2019 6:16 pm

I don't think there's much difference between the old zcorp stuff and the new one. Brand is the same and it behaves similarly to what you describe, though probably does not compress to 1/2 it's original size. At most they have just changed slightly whatever additive they add to the plaster and labelled it "NEW" but I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't change an atom.

The 660 is exactly the same machine as the zcorp 650, they stopped developing it (besides the model tag) several years ago, even if they still sell it, and I don't think they have invested a penny in researching the material.

But mind you, this powder can withstand only so many print cycles, it start degrading after some, while it looses the smaller grains (which fly around everywhere) and start collecting humidity. So, if you don't see a billiard table flat bed (it should look solid), this may be the reason.

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