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Posted: Jul 25, 2013
World's first 3D printed ink cartridges (w/video)
(Nanowerk News) The folks at InkFactory decided to test the idea of creating a working 3D printed Inkjet cartridge.
As a print supplies retailer, Lincolnshire-based UK company InkFactory believes the emerging technology 3D printing could offer possibilities for the home user to print their own ink cartridges and so save money.
In June, the team purchased a MakerBot Replicator 2 desktop 3D printer, along with a selection of coloured PLA plastics, and a plan was drawn up to execute the project over the coming weeks.
Step One – Choose an Ink Cartridge
Top of the list was choosing a suitable inkjet cartridge and inkjet printer. They decided on a range of KODAK ink cartridges (Kodak 30C and Kodak 30B) for this 3D printing project.
Step Two – Create a 3D Model
To print an object in 3D you need to have an accurate scaled 3D drawing of the object. So using SolidWorks, a leading CAD software package that can be used to create 3D objects, the KODAK 30C and KODAK 30B ink cartridges were replicated and exported as industry standard .STL files.
Step Three – Import 3D Objects into MakerWare Software
With the 3D models in an industry standard file format, the next step was to use the free software that came with the MakerBot 3D printer to create a file that could be sent to the 3D printer for printing.
The free software is called MakerWare and contains a “slicing engine” a special algorithm that tells the MakerBot 3D printer what to make and how to make it.
3D Objects Imported Into MakerBot MakerWare.
Step Four – Print The 3D Ink Cartridges
The next step was to export the 3D ink cartridges – using MakerWare – into the 3D printer and start printing the 3D ink cartridges. During the process, several modifications had to be made to the 3D drawings, but soon the team had a working inkjet cartridge printed on the 3D printer.
Original and 3D Printed KODAK 30 Black Ink Cartridges.
Step Five – Using The 3D Printed Ink Cartridges
Once the ink cartridges had been printed the next step was to place them in an inkjet printer and attempt to print a test page. They achieved this by purchasing a KODAK ESP C110 colour inkjet and then replacing the original KODAK ink cartridges with their own 3D printed versions that had been filled with the appropriate inks.