Long before I found my home here at homemadetools.net I made a powder based 3D printer from an old inkjet printer.
I spent a bunch of time testing different powders and liquids in the inkjet cartridge. Back in 2008 there was a thread on the Reprap forum with some of the discussion at the time:
Reprap Powder Printing Thread
This is a picture of my homemade powder based 3d printer made from an old inkjet printer.
I used a very labor intensive process with this homemade printer. I didn't find a material that I was satisfied with so I never automated the process.
below is a video of my homemade powder based 3D printer in action.
The powder material was about $20 but I would probably look at more recent peoples work to see what people have come up with since I worked on this item. A good starting place would be the Plan B Printer website (Building a Plan B | Ytec 3D). Although they seem to have recently stopped development.
For making anything that is functional I would definitely steer you toward the filament plastic extrusion type machines. DIY powder based printers might be better suited for display only items. Although the professional powder based machines claim to produce very strong items (Professional 3D Printers | 3D Systems).
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