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Building the Pwdr 3D Printer
3D printing is here to stay. After 20 years or so of a life in the shadows, 3D printing has gotten a lot of press in 2012, triggered by the OpenSource FDM printer "RepRap Mendel", and then turned into a blaze by Bre Pettis and his "CupCake". These printers have brought prices down from 60.000 and more Euros to under 500 Euros by providing OpenSource software and hardware kits.
FDM - Fused Deposition Modeling can be understood by imagening a Hot Glue Gun bolted onto a CNC machine. The parts are built from ABS or PLA and have typically a ribbed surface from layering the lines of hot plastic.
But FDM has its limitations. There are many more 3D printing methods out there. One of them uses ink jet print heads to fuse layers of plaster. This method is pretty old and commonly refered to as "Powder bed Printers", or PP. These systems are great for arbitrary shapes as the loose powder supports the hardening parts of the model. Also, powder printers can be made to print 3d models in full color.
So, while there are probably hundreds of OpenSource FDM Printers out there, nobody seems to have published a powder printer. Until summer of 2012.
Pwdr, a great approach to powder printing
Alex Budding designed and built Pwdr as part of his graduation project at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. He published his plans in a very clean way under Creative Commons, which means that we can build our own versions of his printer.
And that's what I am going to do.
Building my own Pwdr
There are two main reasons to build this. First, I want to show my kids (7 and 9) that it is possible to build great things pretty much from scratch. They are interested in programming and elektronics, and they also know how to create 3D models on the computer. A 3D printer seems like the perfect project.
Well, and admittedly, I always wanted one of these mysellf. ;-)
Getting the materials
Alex has put a great BOM online. I am in the process of sourcing all parts locally to avoid taxes and customs. This is ho far I got:
(1) - I decided to use wood instead of acryllic to keep cost down
(c) 2012-15 Matthias Melcher