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ESC/PRinter: Powder Printing via a EPSON ESC/P-R InkJet

The Concept

The EPSON printhead family is a very robust piezo-driven inkjet pen, and most of their modern consumer (cheap) printers use the ESC/P-R printer language, and have a large pool of available continuous ink systems (CIS) available.

This borrows heavily from the A5 Powder Bed Printer concept, but focusing on the EPSON printer family and the ESP/P-R language.

Mechanical Adaptations

I am going to keep as much of the printer intact as possible (including the capping station). The intent is to have it ride on rails over the print bed, "believing" that it is actually printing pages.

It looks like the maintenance station runs off of the reverse motion of the main drive.

With that in mind, my current mechanical setup theory is:

  1. Remove rod that runs between paper drive and maintenance station
  2. Add a small DC motor onto the maintenance station (separately controlled by Arduino)
  3. Remove everything else below the paper path on the printer
  4. Switch the paper-out and start-of-page sensors via transistors to my Arduino.
  5. Install a powder scraper roller/blade at the original paper path level

Layer Sequence

Per-layer powder deposition will be as follows, assuming the printer is over the start of the feed area

  1. Drop part bin by 1x layer height, raise feed by 1.25x layer height
  2. Set PAPER_START: FALSE, send MAINT_NOZZLE ESC/P-R command, and turn on the powder roller
    • Printer will now rotate the paper feed system backwards
    • This will move the printer to the end of the part bin, and spreading powder as it goes
  3. Turn off the powder roller
  4. Lower the part bin and feed bin by 1mm (so roller will clear on return pass)
  5. Set PAPER_START: TRUE, and send layer via ESP/P-R PRINT_RASTER
    • Printer will use paper handling system to ride along the bed during print
  6. At end of the end of the printable area, set PAPER_START: FALSE, and send FORM_FEED
  7. When printer is as start of feed bin, set PAPER_START: TRUE - this stops the printer
  8. If on layer > 20 or time > 5 min, send PARK_HEAD, turn on the extra DC motor on the capping station, and send MAINT_NOZZLE
    • This will run the printer across the bed, and clean the nozzles at the capping station.
    • Set PAPER_START: FALSE, and send FORM_FEED
    • When printer is as start of feed bin, set PAPER_START: TRUE
  9. Raise part and feed bins by 1mm.
  10. If not last layer, go back to 1.

Candidate Machines


See the EPSON XP-320 Teardown page for the how to get to the printhead.