Binderjet 3D Printing

08/23/2021: Both of our Binderjet 3D printers are currently out of order and may be retired indefinitely. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please consider using another type of 3D printing.

Powder-based Binderjet 3D printers operates by printing a binder onto layers of gypsum-based powder, layer by layer, and are capable of printing in color. After the print is complete, the print has to be excavated from the powder and post-processed to strengthen it. These printers are the first type of 3D printer CAP has offered to students. For more information about this technology, see the Binderjetting article on Additively.com, and see the relevant section below for printing tips. Located in AB 005.

Modeling Guidelines for Binderjet Printing

See also general 3D Printing Guidelines for all 3D printer types.

Planning for Excavation and Durability: There are a number of modeling considerations unique to printing with our powder-based printers.

  • Excavation: Because these printers work by printing on layers of powder spread over the entire print bed, the prints produced on these machines have to be excavated from the powder. This is the stage where models most often break. There are a number of reasons for this–not the least of which is simply bumping your model the wrong way. If the walls or columns of your model are too thin (see next point), they can collapse when supporting powder is removed.
  • Wall and Column Thicknesses: 3D Systems recommends a minimum of 1/8“ wall thickness for models printed on these printers. This is especially important for parts of your model that are unsupported or free-standing. Any thin part that sticks out is at risk. If your geometry is well-supported (e.g. with frequent corners or bends in the case of walls) your geometry is a little safer and sometimes you can get away with walls thinner than the recommended minimum.
  • Powder Weight: Another consideration is the weight of the powder. If you have a model with a large cavity in the middle, that cavity will be full of powder when the print is finished. If you lift out your model without first clearing that area, all the weight of that powder will bear on whatever parts of the model are underneath. Adjusting the orientation of your model in the build prior to starting the print can be helpful in reducing this effect.
  • Hollowing Out Models: To reduce the weight of your model and save on cost, consider hollowing out otherwise solid models. This can typically be done in Rhino using boolean operations and commands such as Offset Surface. If you do this, make sure there is an opening through which excess powder can be removed. The pressurized air wand used after excavation to remove powder will be able to push out the powder through the hole, but the smaller the hole, the longer it will take to remove the powder.

Post-Processing Options

Binderjet models are brittle if not post-processed. We have three post-processing options:

  • Wax Dipping: The cheapest option, this involves immersing your model in molten parafin wax using our automatic wax dipper. This adds strength and helps bring out any colors in your print. Note that this option adds the least strength and also that colors are slightly darkened. Purely white models will acquire a gray tint.
  • Salt Water: The next cheapest option, this involves spraying your model with an Epsom salt solution. This adds strength once the model dries, but weakens it initially. For this reason, this method is not recommended for any models with thin walls or columns. Colors are well-preserved with this method.
  • ColorBond: This is a more expensive, proprietary binding agent from the printer manufacturer. It is essentially a super glue. The solution can be applied to your model directly from the bottle or by immersing your model in a bath of the solution. Once applied, the solution reacts with the printed material quickly, resulting in significant heat generation, and any loose, adjacent parts stick together. Colors are well-preserved. Application of this solution requires special gloves and anti-splash goggles and produces noxious fumes.

Print Request Form

If you have 3D printed on one of our 3D Systems Binderjet machines in the past, you can use the following form to estimate the cost of your print and, if ready to print, submit a new print request.

If you have not 3D printed before or if you have not 3D printed with this type of machine before, we highly recommend that you set up a Consultation Session and work with a staff member to ensure your geometry is ready for printing. There are various considerations that might affect the success of your print, including the general guidelines outlined on the 3D Printing Guidelines page.

08/23/2021: Both of our Binderjet 3D printers are currently out of order and may be retired indefinitely. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please consider using another type of 3D printing.