Pwdr 3D printer
The Pwdr 3D Printer
An open source powder based 3D printer – it’s what we’ve all been waiting for isn’t it? A laser-sintering based 3D printer for the masses! Well, the 1st gen Pwdr self-assembly 3D printer can now be obtained for around €1000 (£750/$1200) thanks to a team at the University of Twente (Netherlands). But as is often the case, it is probably best not to get too carried away with this announcement. The stated intent of the project is to “promote experiments and innovations in powder-based [3D printing].”
The Pwdr is a machine with reasonable specifications – 96 dpi and Z-axis layer thickness of 50 microns. Build speed and size are okay too — about a minute per layer, and a maximum build size of 125 mm cubed.
The machine itself can be sourced by acquiring all of the necessary components off-the-shelf and is allegedly a simple design that can be built and used easily. Looking at the documentation and user manual – I remain unconvinced on that point, particularly for a mass appeal. This is still very much targeted at a tech fest type of user. Also the materials that can currently be processed highlight the early, very much experimental nature of the system — gypsum, ceramics, concrete and sugar are all referenced. However, typically useful prototyping materials such as ABS, PP and nylon are in the pipeline for “when the SLS process is fully supported” on the Pwdr system. Also, a cartridge system (a standard HP inkjet cartridge) is used to deposit the custom powder binder, but the cartridge has to be refilled by hand using a syringe. The software used to control the Pwdr machine is available for download and, as would be expected, is based on open source tools like Arduino and Processing.
None of what I have written here is to say that I do not applaud this new addition to the entry-level 3D printing space — I most certainly do. The Pwdr system together with the MiiCraft and B9Creator resin systems are bringing much needed 3D printing process diversity for the maker community. But as stated 'on the tin' — it's experimental and aimed at further innovations, but with no crystal ball at hand, who can say where it will lead?