3D Printing in Schools

Powder machines
The most popular machines in schools use fine powders based on gypsum or corn starch glued together with a liquid binder applied using a modified inkjet print head.

Typical layout of a powder based 3D printer

Typical layout of a powder based 3D printer

How do they work?
The base of the machine has two chambers. At the start of the build, the powder reservoir is full and the build chamber is empty. At the end of the build process parts are de-powdered inside the machine or in a separate chamber. Any loose powder is reused. Models are then strengthened by infusing with a liquid similar to cyanoacrylate (super glue).

fig 21Advantages
• Low cost materials
• Minimal waste
• Loose powder supports geometry later in the build
• Relatively short build times
• Parts can be nested inside one another and vertically
• Full colour models (higher end machines)

Disadvantages
• Low strength models
• High initial cost of printers
• De-powdering can be messy


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