Around town Making anything and everything

Printer guts

Posted Thu, Apr 14, 2005 at 12:52 PM
Modified Wed, Dec 4-, 2005 at 05: 1 PM

Not too long ago, I bought a new home printer blazin' with speed (or at least blazin' in comparision to what I was use to). My old HP was pushing 6 years and using every last ounce of effort to print. If I had more than 10 pages to print, I would go get a coffee -- and I don't mean 'go into the kitchen and get a coffee', I mean 'put on the jacket, walk down the block to the coffee shop, sip, read the newspaper, sip...'

I was going to put up a sign in my apartment and see if anyone else wanted this ghetto thing but never got around to it. The printer got cast away to a dark corner because, quite frankly, who would want it? It costs more for new ink cartridges than it does for a new printer.

Well I came across it again yesterday while cleaning and it occured to me that there are some good motors to be had. I ripped it apart and now I've got 3 different sizes of motors, some funky curcuit boards, and the inkjet cartridge housing.

Of course, the motors could easily find their home in some other wacky project of mine but the circuits and inkjet contraption...? Maybe....

Last semester, Norm took our fine arts brains over to the mechanical engineering dept. workshop for a tour. I've been in there before but had no clue what any of the machines did. We were wow'ed by this beast of a box called a Rapid Prototyping machine.

Essentially they are 3D printers -- you model something using 3D software and it "prints" the object by first putting down a very, very thin layer of powder (even cornstarch works in there!). From there, a motor contraption much like your home printer scans through the 3D model and squirts dots of water onto the powder. Wherever the water hits, the powder solidifies.

So another layer of powder, more water dots, powder, water, and so on until eventually you take this thing out, shake off all the loose powder and you've got yourself a physical version of your 3D model. It could even have moving parts (ie. ball bearings) if you model it right.

And if that's just not fascinating in itself, the kicker is that, like your home printer, it uses ordinary HP print cartridges. Yes, you can buy these things from any office supply store. (Of course, the ink is washed out first.)

A homebrewed DIY rapid protyping machine? Could it be possible? (Probably not from me though... I'm not that good.)

But check out this recent post over at World Changing. There's a lot of hubbub for the societal value of this. In the same way that programming gives anyone the ability to make their own software, if anyone had access to rapid prototyping technology, the rate of innovation would skyrocket.

Around town Making anything and everything
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Tracked on October 10, 2005 10:44 AM