A project by a student at the University of Twente (Enschede, Netherlands) has resulted in an open-source 3D-printing technology that could enable four-color printing, according to medical-device designer Joseph Flaherty, writing for Wired. Called Pwdr, the new rapid-prototyping design is the creation of Alex Budding, previously an engineering student at the University, where he produced the printer as a master’s project. Budding is now a researcher at the school.
Pwdr consists entirely of off-the-shelf components, says Budding at his Github project site. Chassis, tool head, and electronics can be purchased for about €1000 and assembled in “a couple of hours.” Rather than laying down layers of melted plastic as with the best-known 3D-printing technologies, Pwdr uses an HP inkjet cartridge. Flaherty says the cartridge “deposits a liquid binder, mixed with ink, onto a layer of white gypsum powder.” Then “a roller bar drags a thin layer of powder across the surface.” The process repeats until the printed object is formed. Then the part has to be “carefully removed, dusted off, and dipped in clear glue that infiltrates the part and solidifies it.”
The current design only prints in one color, but Flaherty says the technology could be used as the basis for a full-color powder-based printer. The open-source design makes that feasible.
Photos courtesy of Alex Budding.