Most hobby 3D printers are based on FDM, extruding a single-color noodle of melted plastic to build up an object. Powder-based inkjet 3D printing allows you to print detailed, full-color models from a plaster-like material. The process uses ink and water droplets, dispensed from an inkjet print head to selectively fuse and color layers of a powdered binder material. When you see an offer for a 3D printed miniature version of yourself (or someone else), they are made with powder. [Aad van der Geest] wants to put this technology on your desktop with ColorPod, a kit that converts your FDM printer into a powder printer.
3D printers come in all shapes and sizes. Most widely known is the FDM (fused deposition modeling) style, which was the easiest to adapt to a consumer grade machine. We’re still waiting for widespread availability of some of the more advanced 3D printing technologies — so you can guess how excited we were when [Yvo de Haas] dropped us a line on his open-source powder based 3D printer!
Powder based 3D printing is one of the most economic and easy to use technologies in the commercial industry because of one wonderful thing — no support material required! They work by laying down fine layers of powder which can then be bonded together either by laser sintering, or by using a binding agent applied by something similar to an inkjet head. Because of this, the surrounding powder acts as a support for any complex geometry you might need — you can quite literally print anything on this style of machine.
[Yvo] has just finished his own version of this style of 3D printer, called the Plan B. Mechanically similar to a regular 3D printer, his is capable of laying down fine powders, and then binding them together using a hacked HP inkjet cartridge. Check it out after the break.