Sunday, July 08, 2012


Variations on Powder Printing

I had an idea for a variant of the MIT/ZCorp powder-print 3D printer that I'm blogging here to prevent its being patented (assuming that it hasn't been already - put a link in a comment if you know different).

The idea is put a monomer or resin (plus maybe a solvent) in the ink-jet head, spray that on the powder layers, then expose it to light (of whatever wavelength the resin needs to polymerise).  More neatly, you could instead (or as well) put a polymerisation catalyst pre-mixed into the build powder.  It might also be possible to reverse the components and spray the catalyst onto a resin powder (again maybe with a solvent), though I think that would work less well.

The advantage would be that you should end up with much stronger parts.  They shouldn't require the secondary process of dipping them in cyanoacrylate to toughen them up.

The MIT patent runs out in April 2013, incidentally.

Is there a list of printing patents and their expiration dates anywhere?
Try here:

They last 20 years.
@Adrian Sounds like fun! :-)

Why not just float a very thin layer of methyl methacrylate on water and print a layer using a laser dot? I am sure that the patent on that one is long gone and you wind up with a perspex print with the water providing support. :-)
Just an FYI, my employer (in the US) has us publish stuff to this site ( if we want to make sure no other company will patent something that we don't want to patent ourselves.
Hi Adrian,

It is great idea. I was thinking in the same way. I was looking for photopolymer 3D printer to build, but since I am an architect, I would like to have various texture and tactile feeling and bigger models. I was thinking about aggregate (sand, sawdust) bonded together with some kind of photopolymer quick cured resin sprayed on aggregate and cured in short layer by layer. There is lot of questions, as, if layers can be bonded together in such process or some other resin is better option, other type of curing, etc.
Why not inkjet spraying photopolymer, with a UV LED ring around the nozzle?

Basically the same as plastic extrusion, but with a much finer nozzle.
Isn't this the same way that the desktop factory device was supposed to work before it got bought out by 3-D systems?
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This patent is actually expired on 2010
A useful post for patent expiring date calculation:

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