The University of Washington has become a major source of innovation in the use of powder bed printers with new and inexpensive materials. Professor Mark Ganter and his students have been experimenting for several years and have produced some amazing results. Today they tease us with the announcement of something really fantastic - the AdderFab 3d printer. It is a powder bed printer using an off the shelf HP print cartridge and assembled using fabbed parts which are very similar to Mendel parts.
From their video it is apparent that AdderFab prints quite slowly at the moment but Mark says that they will be working over the next few months to speed it up before releasing the design as an open source project. Most of the home built printers of this type have used the whole X-carriage from a commercial inkjet printer which has both advantages and disadvantages. On the upside the X axis movement can be handled by the existing printer carriage hardware but it also means that every printer has a unique design if it uses a different printer as its' parts source. The design of a standard X carriage, once the bugs are worked out, will make this design much more reproduceable.
This is exactly what I was planning on doing as my next project after I got the Mendel working. Of course, with my limited engineering skills, I would not have produced anything as nice as what I see from the Open3DP group so I will be happy to build their design and avoid having to figure things out on my own.
Having both machines raises the possibility of creating items that are assembled of parts printed in multiple materials - plastic parts from the mendel and ceramic or glass parts produced by the AdderFab.