DIY inkjet printer

This quarter at the University of Washington a group of students (Patrick Hannan, Jared Knutzen, Joy Markham, & Myself – Nicholas C Lewis) produced some documentation on the development of a DIY inkjet printer.  This project is attracting a lot of attention and spawning some interesting ideas.  There are people talking about adapting it to print on spherical objects, direct etch resist PCBs, 3d powder printer projects, and printing color on plastic parts made with FDM printers.

The goal of this project was to develop a low cost, open source inkjet printer utilizing standard inkjet technology, for personal use. This project was partly in response to the fact that there are no DIY inkjet kits available. There was a kit available from Parallax This kit is no longer made and the book that was written to use that kit is now out of print.

The documentation is available as a thing on Thingiverse, a photo album and a video.

Published by NicholasCLewis

Nicholas C Lewis has BS in Mechanical Engineering with a Minor in Math and works as a Manufacturing Engineer. He also blogs @:

Join the Conversation


  1. Nice to see some work on home printers, I wish I could do it. I sadly have too many printers its not even the ink that bothers its the fact they keep breaking down and you can’t just fix them :(

  2. Soooo… You need a $1,200 (or more) 3D printer to make an 2D inkjet printer that uses overpriced third-party manufactured ink cartridges and prints with far less resolution than a $30 printer you can buy almost anywhere. Hmmm… I should have seen this coming the second I saw the word “Arduino”. If I were the TA running this class, I’d probably make an example out of these guys – and fail them.

    1. You Sir, should be shot. This has nothing to do with making a cheep high quality printer. This has to do with learning.

  3. While Vadim’s comment may be a bit harsh Drone you do seem to not have really understood the article.

    The purpose of this was not to prove this would be a cost effective method for anything. it was more of a proof-of-concept thing.

    As well if you dislike Arduino enough to judge something based solely on seeing the word Arduino Why not avoid this stuff in future? You are perhaps unlikely to have any interest in changing your low opinion.

    TL;DR You missed the point of the article and if you hate Arduino nobody’s forcing you to read about it.

    To the posters was it a case of using what you had or did you choose those cartridges specifically?

    1. The Ferret, you are correct that the intent of this project was to open the door to other projects that use inkjet technology. The print head was chosen because it is an available head that also has an available carrier. It is also one of the simplest heads to drive and has existing documentation. The Arduino was selected because we did not have very much experience with MCUs and felt given the time constraints the Arduino would be a good tool to prove the concept. I would think that porting this to any other MCU would not be difficult. Part of why we released this project was to allow others to advance it further.

  4. I thought the point of this was being one step closer to not paying $800 a gallon for printer ink. The big companies sell the printer for cheap, but then you pay the price in expensive ink dependence forever.

    Its awesome to see people start working on their own printers. There’s no reason someone can’t come up with a cheap 3D printed printer that shifts us away from large corporations products overnight.

    Someday I foresee open source hardware and software to put money back in the hands of the people.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.