27C3 File->Print->Electronics

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At 27C3 I gave a talk about inkjet printing PCB's. Over the last few months I've been working on reverse engineering the printhead from an Epson Stylus S21 to get it to print molten wax.

As usual, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at CCC. Thanks to everyone who came to my talk, asked questions, gave me suggestions and feedback. 

Slides are available here , and.

My talk is up on youtube here


 

 

Submitted by jeff on Sat, 01/01/2011 - 13:53.

Just watched your talk on

Just watched your talk on youtube, and it's interesting, and inspiring stuff. I'm downloading the slides now, but they appear to be terribly large -- 36MB -- and are not downloading terribly swiftly. Could you tell me, please, what the URL for the UV LED + fiberoptic + plotter printer is? Edit: Finished downloading. The URL given in the slide 404s.
I'm also awaiting with bated breath more information on your inkjet hacks, and why you abandoned the laser printer, which seemed to be producing good results. I expect, though, that those are coming, given the way you seem to write.
Have you seen http://reprap.org/wiki/Reprappable-inkjet?

Thanks!

Hi, thanks for your

Hi, thanks for your interest. The UV pen plotter's full URL is here: http://francois.dubrulle.pagesperso-orange.fr/aproposdemoi/index.html Not much info, though. I did speak to another guy in the audience who had made his own with a bluray laser. Pretty simple really, just stick the laser onto a pen plotter! He mentioned that some optical fibre (presumably polymer stuff, glass should be fine) absorbs a lot of UV, so move the laser around for best results.

Have seen the reprap inkjet, yep. Pretty cool, but it really is trivial to make your own single-nozzle low res inkjet. I'm interested in the Epson ones for higher speed and much higher resolution.

Cheers!
Jeff

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Could you share printing

Could you share printing head pinout (and some of sniffed data) ? I have the same printer but without cardriges.
In the talk you showed piezo waveform with only one actuating shape, but I found that head can use more, have you tried it ?

Yep, will get some info up

Yep, will get some info up here soon. Watch this space. At the moment, everything is entirely undocumented...

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I commented to the wrong blog entry...

I messed up and made comments to the PCB inkjet thread which were intended for this one. I made some comments on potential via solutions, soldermask, and other stuff. Last night I had a dream about a potential solution for the leakage problem -- add some short hollow tubes or ledge on the heater block which insert into wax ports. If the fit is tight enough (probably -0.001 or so) then this will help seal the flats.

I'm on the road most of the next week so will not be able to follow up before then, but I really like this project.

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Jeff, I just saw your CCC

Jeff, I just saw your CCC presentation (linked from MAKE magazine blog), and I can't tell you how exciting this is! I can't wait for the day that I can click File.. Print and have a PCB come out of a printer, ready to etch.

Your results look quite promising; from the video it appears that your biggest challenges are the seal between the printhead and the wax resivoir, and sqeegeeing the printhead once in a while. Neither of these seems to be an insurmountable challenge.

Do you have any schematics, code, etc. you could share with others? This is a project I'd have a lot of fun working on.

Thanks, yes, info coming

Thanks, yes, info coming soon. Everything is undocumented at the moment, but will try to make it into something coherent and upload it here...

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Sealing heating block to print head

Hi -
I just watched your talk via the link from Make. Great work! I heard at least one good suggestion about using automotive instant gasket silicone. Did you try that yet?

Here is another suggestion: Silicone and polyurethane actually cure with moisture (usually gotten from the air). My first thought was to moisten a paper towel or cotton fabric and then coat it with silicone and apply it like tape. This should allow it to cure fully.

Then I remembered that people have been using corn starch as a moisture bearing additive to make casting silicone.
http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Make-Your-Own-Sugru-Substitute/

I bet if you used a variant of the Oogoo method it would work well.

Please let me know if you try this and the result.

Chris

One more thing

I also just realized that another source of leaks could be the clamping setup. As I recall you had a thin metal plate with machine screws clamping the print head on. If the clamping plate is relatively flexible the gasket will tend to squish near the screws and leak between them. I know this from experience building a simple flat pump for dispensing cleaning fluid for a consumer product.

Ideally the clamping plate (and the mating heater block) would be perfectly flat and infinitely stiff. The other thing to consider is screw placement. Metal pipe flanges have a lot of screws because each screw's influence spreads out from the head in a 45deg cone. Thinner flange/plate = more screws.

Chris

Hi Chris, Thanks for your

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your input. I'm going to try to avoid clamps and gaskets, that was a solution born of pure time pressure and frustration! You're right about flexible clamping plates. Mine is actually under very little force, because the printhead itself is made from very thin materials and is easily crushed! I made it from spring steel (which was a pain in the arse), to get excellent rigidity in little thickness.

I haven't tried any other adhesives yet, but I'm convinced that the right silicone with the right deposition technique will solve the problem. Unfortunately, I'm working crazy hours on my paid projects at the moment to make up for all the printer development before 27C3!

Interesting fact re. moisture curing of silicone. Didn't know that.

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Running flexcircuits through unmodified wax printer?

You made mention of doing flex circuits in an unmodified wax printer (Xerox Phaser) as the genesis of this project. Can you elaborate? If you just run an A4 sheet of something like Dupont Pyralux (http://www2.dupont.com/Pyralux/en_US/index.html) will it just work? Or does the wax ribbon -> drum -> copper process work poorly?

Personally I am more interested in flex circuits. If one could go to a copy center and print on Pyralux that would be pretty sweet. One could always laminate to FR4 afterward. Two-sided registration and vias are still up in the air of course.