Hey, I have an idea for a new kind of 3D printer that is built on the technology of current laserjet printers. Do you know anything about the manufacture photoconducting drums? If so, I’d like to pick your brain.
I’ve considered this before. The resolution would necessarily be pretty high, but toner isn’t the cheapest material, nor would the parts likely be very durable. I also suspect that it would be terrible at overhangs.
I have an innovation that would dramatically speed the process of 3D laser printing but I don’t have a working prototype, so I can’t speak to evidence with overhangs. The assumption that I’m working on is that the steepness of any overhang would be commensurate in scope with the size of toner particles and the required surface area for adequate particle-to-particle adhesion. These are exactly the same considerations for extrusion-style printers.
As for the durability of parts, this would likely be a function of paid-for-quality, right? I know that photoconductive drums and rubber rollers used in current 2D laser printers are often rated for tens of thousands of hours of print time.
Toner is not very expensive - it suffers from the same kind of price gouging that is used in the 2D printer industry for inks.
I was referring to the durability of the prints, not the printer components (though in my work, they are often one and the same).
Ah, I totally misunderstood you. This is actually a point about which I would like to talk with someone who has more experience in 2D laser printing. Current toner particles used in your typical desktop laserjet printer are styrene particles with some colorant, perhaps carbon black (which is a conductive form of carbon of very fine particulate). The particles are about 10-100 microns in size, and generally (as best i can tell) the toner manufacturers would perfer to keep toner size fairly consistent among batches. This helps with printing accuracy as well as drum maintenance (so too-large or too-small particles don’t get stuck in and clog the mechanisms). Laser printing works by attracting toner to a photoconducting drum via static electricity forces, so the voltage differential between the drum and the toner particles must be large enough to attract the mass of any individual particle. It would be good to know whether there is diminishing returns on how big a toner particle can be, and how massive a toner particle can be. The kinds of plastics used in extrusion style 3D printers may be too dense - that is, they may be too massive as a 100 micron diameter sphere to be attracted to a photoconducting drum via static electricity. OR it may be that there is such an excess of static force that it won’t matter all that much what the toner particles are made of.
So, whether the printed object is made from melted styrene or from some other plastic such as PLA or ABS would certainly contribute to the printed object’s lifespan and durability.
tl;dr: it may be possible to use any print substrate - not just current toners. Durability would depend on print substrate choice.
It would depend less on the type of material used than on how well the particles are bonded together. My experience suggests that a toner printer would not form very strong bonds.