After looking around, a group from University of Washington found that there were no DIY inkjet kits available. Sad times. Parallax used to sell one, and the book Inkjet Applications by Matt Gilliland which went along with it, is no longer in print.
So what did University of Washington students Patrick Hannan, Jared Knutzen, Nicholas C Lewis, Joy Markham, and professor M. A. Ganter do? Why, they built their own open inkjet printer for their ME495 (Mechanical Engineering Design) class. The best part is that you can use it to print on all kinds of objects–paper, t-shirts, even mousepads (remember those?).
The team’s new printer prototype was constructed from steel rods and parts printed on a fused deposition modeling (FDM) machine–a piece of equipment that injects molten material in layers to form a part. The group also found that they could cut the cost of printed parts in half by making silicon molds and casting the parts from polyurethane. After the initial investment of making the molds the team found that it will only cost about $8.00 to cast the parts.
Although the home DIY’er may not have the money to buy an expensive 3D printer, you might get away with using a DIY RepRap machine or by having your parts professionally and cheaply made by Shapeways. After a little investment, you could also make your own silicon molds, just like what many people use to make wax molds for casting metal in invesment casting.
The printer is based on an Arduino board; the group used it because of the open-source platform’s easy-to-use hardware and software, and because it’s very cost efficient.