One of our new working binders for our lab.  It really is a solvent system.   The real binder is in the powder and this liquid is just the solvent to activate the binder (the concept was partially developed by B. Utela).  It was developed to aid the educational users that have difficulty with the Vodka based binder.


Drugstore Brand 91% Isopropyl –  280 ml

Distilled Water    — 920 ml

Food Coloring     — 45 ml (depending on color saturation)

We have found that this binder seems to work with 400 class machines since it employs Cannon bubblejet technology.  Bubblejet technology likes very low viscousity inks with low surface tension.

DO NOT SUBSTITUTE DENATURED ETHANOL as it contains various chemicals that end up plugging the print head

25 Comments on XF1 (eXperimental Fluid) — 400 class

  1. Michael says:

    Hi Mark. Great to see you guys posting all the great info.

    Do you guys have any binder recipes for the 310 printer that work with all the recipes?

    Keep up the great work!


  2. admin says:

    Michael, at this point we have had success with XB1 and XF1 BUT (big but), we can’t purge out the new cartridge with XB1/XF1 as it seems to kill the cartridge. Sorry wish we had better news. However, if you check you will find that you must run lower saturation for our powders. Lastly, your binder to powder ratio is about 1 to 40 (meaning for every 40cc of powder you print, you only use about 1cc of binder). Good luck.

  3. Dawn says:

    I’m a long-time “maker” and short-time warm glass worker, and I’ve got to say I’m impressed and excited by the work you and your crew are doing. I’m adapting your powder/binder recipes for use in hand modeling glass powder, and was curious regarding the purpose of the food coloring. Does it actually leave pigment embedded in the final glass product, or is it simply to make it easier to identify printed areas from non-printed?

    Thanks for your help.

  4. admin says:

    Dawn, You might want to hunt down “glass clay”. Several people have info on glass clay on the net. It might be closer to what you need for hand use. The food coloring just helps us see that the print head is functioning well. Food coloring is an organic compound and as such is burn away during firing. In our lab, it helps us tell what binder we are running in a given machine (as we have fixed colors for fixed binders).

  5. Dawn says:

    Thanks Admin (Mark??),

    Your formula is one of many that I’m testing. I’m playing make-up scientist and trying to avoid blowing up my garage/workshop at the same time (I believe that I spent most of H.S. chemistry on creating a weekly comic book making fun of the teachers/nuns at my school, and college is all about IT – no chemistry/physics required for my particular degree…)

    Given my druthers, I’d buy a Makerbot Cupcake CNC and come up with a glass recipe that worked as frosting…alas, it’s not in the budget for this year.

    In the meantime, I’m running through options for creating glass objects that may be fired without a mold, with maximum structural integrity and minimal shrinkage. I have a list of 8 “recipes” now, derived from a multitude of sources (everything from university sources to recipes for sand play-dough, with the sand replaced by powdered or fritted glass). Testing them all should keep me busy for a while – do you have any people who are working on similar projects that I could talk with?


  6. admin says:

    Dawn, did you look around for glass clay? I just did a presentation at DorkBot Seattle last week. The one thing that
    came up over and over again – How can I play with 3DP glass without a 3DP? My answer was Glass Clay.

    BTW, the liquid binder (XB & XF) are not binders just solvents. They just dissolve the adhesive in the powders. If you are
    playing by hand, just mix up a Sodium CMC – Water mixture or PVA (PVoH) and water mixture until you get something as thick as gravy. Then mix powdered glass to make clay. Just search for Glass clay & you will find the warmglass thread! You will find a working recipe.

    p.s. send us pics of your progress and we’ll be happy to post (if you want).

  7. nullset says:


    Is XF1 or XB1 preferred, if vodka accessibility isn’t a problem?



  8. admin says:

    Both work well. We have multiple machines running each. Results are very similar. XF1 costs less than $5 / gallon including the food coloring. Some of the choice is really personal taste (pun intended). No don’t ever drink the binder. We like to also put in almond, banana, grape or bubble gum favoring so the lab has a nice smell.

  9. madscifi says:


    I’m curious, is the alcohol included in the recipe simply because it is necessary for the print head to function properly or does it also play some useful role in the binding process? That is, if the print head worked with pure water would you still add the alcohol?


  10. admin says:

    Dear MadSci, The alcohol serves several functions: it lowers the viscosity of the fluid, it lowers the surface tension of the fluid, and it speeds drying. Most of our powder systems would “work” if one just used water BUT water has strange properties and it doesn’t really like to be put through an inkjet head. The bottom line is iso-p is very inexpensive and serves to fix the issues with just running water. Have we printed in just plain water? yes of course!

  11. Austin says:

    What do you mean you can’t purge out the new cartridge with XB1/XF1. Does this mean you can’t reuse cartridges after filling them with a solvent or does this mean each cartridge must be dedicated for use to a single binder? In other words, is it true you need two cartridges to use both types of solvents? How often do cartridges have to be replaced?

  12. admin says:

    Austin, there is a corporate procedure to purge your heads on the newer machines. If you follow this procedure with XB1/XF1, you will blow your printheads. You might purge the printheads
    manually. Or try the rice cooking wine.

  13. Emmett says:

    What is the process for purging manually? I have a 310 machine, and want to use rice wine and hydroperm. I am worried that I will not be able to purge the ink out of the print head running the rice wine. Am I missing something here? Would I need to use stock binder for purging only?

  14. ganter says:

    Emmett, I would give it a try following the standard process with rice wine (not rice cooking wine). Perhaps you might only run 1/3 to 1/2 of the purge cycle. The worst that could happen would be to “toast” the new head. I’ve gotten conflicting reports. Also, last week it was reported that “just plain rice wine from the place with 2-buck chuck worked great”.

    Take an old printhead apart. Look at the location of the internal pieces carefully. On the outside, you should find a rubber plug that keeps the original ink in place.

  15. Ken says:

    A rather long string and a couple of months with no answer…

    So, is it the “Purge process” on the Z310 that blows the heads?

    Is there a reccomended (tested) method for using hydroperm and “???” in the Z310? Has anyone tried the hydroperm and gotten it to work on a 310? If so, what “binder” did you use? How do the results compare with using ZP150 and ZB60?

    If nobody’s tried it, how about purging a new head by just printing “scrap parts” with the ink until it’s gone, throw out the “parts” that were printed with ink and start printing real parts “when the color has changed”?

    Which is the best binder? Admin says “rice cooking wine”, Ganter says “plain rice wine (not cooking)” then there is XF1 and XB1 or ???, which one is it?

    How does using the “cheap” binder affect the print heads? Will they wear out faster? How much faster? What is the expected life (in ml) for print heads on a 310 using the “???” binder solution?

    If the best binder is wine can you be more specific as to the brand or specific contents? Have you tried more than one brand? Are there big differences?

    Emmett, did you try this on your 310? Did it work or fail?

    Thanks in advance, it would be really great if this is not an April fools joke too.

  16. ganter says:

    Ken, Take a breath. It’s called engagement. You need to be engaged in this process too. Run some experiments (take pictures and report your results).

    We don’t have every piece of equipment and likely never will. We know that the heads on the 310/510 have different needs/likes than those on the old 400/402s. We know that using XB/XF and directly purging “seems” to blow the head. Purging the head takes a toll on the head as it fires out all of the original ink in one sitting (not the best thermal proposition). After the head is purged, we have no trouble with XF/XB (in fact the heads last about 50% longer). Several folks have reported success with VOHP and all of the binders suggested. We don’t do comparisons with premium powders (but you could and post the results on your blog).

    Why don’t you try it. With VOHP, there’s a good chance the black parts will be OK.

    In terms of which binder is the best that’s subjective. In a public school setting, XB is not likely a good choice as one might need to explain its ingredient purchase to the local school board, etc (same thing with other “wines”). We put XF together for that reason. Also, climate/humidity plays a real part in the process.

    The joke is not getting involved in testing your equipment and process. AM (additive manufacturing) is still a manufacturing process and as such one that you should work to understand and calibrate.

    Not a joke, when we REALLY want the very best parts, we calibrate settings for EACH printhead. Yes, it takes time BUT the results are worth it!

  17. UMN_Design says:

    While a “best solution” may be nice Ken, that’s really not what Open3DP is about: it’s about experimentation, involvement and continuing improvement of open source, low cost alternatives. If you want to plug and play, buy consumables from the manufacturer.

    At UMN_Design we’re still getting very mixed results with our 3XX machine. We have had decent results(but not great) in small builds using the rice cooking wine and hydrocal (hydroperm not so much) but if each layer is more than ~20% filled, the print head seems unable to keep up: the saturation level falls off significantly across the layer.

    At the moment we’re using a blend of premium powders (whoops) with rice wine. Results with this combo thus far are exhibiting pretty bad layer failure (the parts can easily be taken apart like an oreo cookie). The rice wine we used is ~ 4 mos old, is there a chance that it has “gone off”? Is there some reason that rice wine wouldn’t work with a blend? (It worked great with our first test prints).

    Trying XF1 with the blended powder now.. will report back. Took apart an old print head… not quite sure of everything going on in there yet, but the demystification process continues.


  18. admin says:

    KG, Thanks for sharing. We’ve run XF1 in a head after it had been purged. We used the recommended procedure to purge the head using the approved binder and then run XF1 after that.

    Have you noticed that the printheads need a warmup period? We found that we needed to print about 25-50 layers of 10x100mm bar to
    get the printhead up to temperature and running in steady state before we got reliable results. We put the bar into the bottom of the build space lower than all the other parts. We do this in every build! Help with many of the head issues. Please keep us posted.

  19. UMN_Design says:

    Yesterday we tried XF1 (300ml 70% iso, 600ml h2o) in our 310 with 131/150. Rather than purging the new head, we tried to just run the stock ink out of the head through the course of the build.

    ink/binder flow and saturation with the ink that was in the head looked good, but as the black of the ink faded to grey (as the ink was replaced by the XF1)the flow/saturation decreased noticeably until it was nearly dry (~200 layer, 4 cuin build): this is quite consistent with what we observed when attempting prints with the rice cooking wine.

    My theory at this point is that the HP print heads (#10 in our case) simply need different binder characteristics than the Canon printheads in the 400’s. Is anybody printing successfully and consistently with HP printheads?

    Help, we’re getting frustrated here.


  20. UMN_Design says:


    Upon further reading and consultation with Mark, we determined that we made an error when we assumed that the function of the food coloring in XF1 was strictly for pigmentation. We’ve substituted glycerine for the food coloring and our “loss of prime” issues with the HP printhead are, for the moment, resolved.

    our XMB1:
    74% H2O
    22% 91% Isopropyl
    4% Glycerine

    Thus far sample parts with XF1 +130/150 compare very favorably to stock binder + 150 in resolution and green strength.

    It’s bizarre to me what a little Glycerin can do, but then, I’m no chemist.

    Thanks Mark and all.


  21. admin says:

    KG, great work! Thanks for sharing and yes each brand of print head has its own favorite liquor. Please keep us posted.

  22. Danny Thorpe says:

    Note that some food colorings don’t contain glycerin. Common grocery store brands do (in the tiny 1 oz bottles) but I’m finding bulk sources often don’t contain glycerin. Read the label!

    That $5/gallon including food coloring figure quoted earlier has to be using bulk food coloring, since the tiny 1oz (29ml) bottle of McCormick’s food coloring costs more than $4 at the local grocer!

    Finding bulk glycerin is easy. I may just have to double down and get a gallon of each to make my own dye + glycerin binder additive.


  23. ganter says:

    Danny, you may also wish to google “DIY waterproof ink”. It may surprise you.

  24. Alex says:

    Will this binder work with zb100 from Zcorp and still be water soluble?

  25. ganter says:

    Alex, I don’t know but you could test it using a household cleaning sprayer and a pan of powder.

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