by  Laura West and Mark Ganter

As a result of the collaboration between artist (and  a bit engineer) Laura West and engineer (and more than part – artist) Mark Ganter, we are making great strides in the Fresno City College Sculpture Lab and the UW Solheim RP Lab  for the past few weeks.  This went into high gear when Laura West came up to Seattle last week for Ars Mathematica and to finalize some research on the cemetenous material (see posts).  As you may have noticed, Mark made and amazing discovery and found a printing fluid (rice wine) that works straight out of the bottle.  A few days later, Laura began testing a type of gypsum cement straight out of the bag and Mark joined the party/followed suit/something like that literally within hours.

We have been both testing a number of different high strength specialty plasters and have found several to be amazingly successful. We are presenting last week’s winner.

The recipe is “There is no recipe“.   You simple purchase USG HydroPerm, cut open bag, and pour into machine.

It has good damp strength, great green strength, and air drying seems the best (although we have been known to bake a few).   The best part of VOHP parts is you can spray them with water OR gently wash them in water (and the parts get stronger)!  You can even use water based paints, stains, and varnishes.   The VOHP parts open up a new frontier in post processing options.

“Around midnight before Laura West was to leave her very productive visit at Solheim RP, she ran a test of a USG material called Hydroperm that is often used in metal casting.  It printed beautifully.  Good strength and very little binder migration (we call this “bloom”).  She then decided to run a small test mold and a few small sculptures.  Within two hours of starting the print, Laura took the test mold over to the metal casting lab and discovered that it does indeed hold up very well to cast metal.  This material is potentially even better than the cementenous formula.”

We have had successful results with a variety out-of-the-bag printing materials since we began our collaboration.   Some of them have potential for metalcasting (We would recommend waiting until we get past preliminary testing to try this – we promise to get you results soon).   As we test these and other new materials we will keep you posted on this site and rpsculpt.

{Laura West: Test figures printed in HydroPerm, (0n the left)
and other materials}

Mark has been printing up a series of sculptures in Hydroperm for an exhibition in the ArtSpace Gallery at Fresno City College titled “Rapid Premonitions”  They are printing amazingly well. . .

{Mark Ganter: Moai Bowling set printed in HydroPerm}.

We think this is the best powder that we have found to date.   It works for part printing and it works for mold printing!!!

We’ve have been using this plaster based replacement powder over the last two years.  The recipe is simpler and more available than our previous plaster recipe.   It was developed over a period of  about one year.  It has ok damp strength, good green strength, and is quite strong after baking in the convection oven (with a temperature between warm and defrost).   When finished, one might infiltrate with CA glue, or thin epoxy, or wax/paraffin.

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63 Comments on Plaster Powder VOHP (Version “Out of the bag” HydroPerm)

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by reBang™, Andrew Plumb and Christoph, Gerald Barnett. Gerald Barnett said: A low cost out of the bag #3dprinting plaster powder for part printing and mold printing. […]

  2. We are a Bronze Foundry rated in the top ten in the world at what we do. Currently we are setting up a large test pour that will incorporate cast-able printed mold material from six different material representations. We are open to all sorts of collaborations. I do the CAD design for the foundry, we currently have a digital mold “on tour” at various casting conferences through the globe till December, and recently had a photo of this mold presented by Laura West during her lecture for Ars Mathmatica. Please contact Port Townsend Foundry if you would like more info. We are currently working with a variety of companies and research groups to test their 3DP mold formulations. We are a group of engineers and artists looking for a way to incorporate 3D technology into a true manufacturing environment.

  3. Hello Open3Dp from Kevin at UMN_Design

  4. UMN_Design has recently begun printing with Open3Dp recipes in a 310 printer. Thus far we’ve just run the rice wine with stock powder and with straight HydroCal (since we had it on hand). The rice wine + stock powder is practically indiscernible from the stock binder. The rice wine + HydroCal has terrible resolution but the parts are surprisingly strong without any post-processing. We’re anxiously awaiting an order of HydroPerm.

    We’ll post sample pics and info on our fb page(the first cube is grey from residual ink in the print head):

    Keep up the great work Open3Dp, we’re looking forward to contributing to this effort.

  5. We’ve gotten some HydroPerm and have printed numerous test prints with our 310 at a wide range of saturation levels (.16 – .42). All of the resulting parts have had very poor resolution and are easily crushed (far inferior to the parts we recently printed in HydroCal). There is little discernible difference in the various saturation levels while the parts are printing or in the finished parts. We’re rather miffed, are we missing something obvious here? Maybe a bad printhead? The material looks sufficiently wetted during the build.

    We would appreciate any suggestions.


  6. west says:

    Our parts seem to pull out firm, we are running fairly wet, but not so much that the powder seems to pull away from the part while printing. I usually leave the parts in for up to an hour afterwards. We actually seemed to get the best resolution with hydroperm. I will look up our last saturation levels for you, when I go in Monday.

  7. Todaygallery says:


    Any word on those saturation levels?
    Can you change these levels in Zprint?
    Thanks for the help!

  8. Liz says:


    Did you ever work out how to get good resolution/stability with your HydroPerm tests?

    My husband and I just got a used Z310 and we would love to start experimenting with stock powder alternatives.

    • admin says:

      Liz, we have been running so much VOHP that we’ve gone to the supply store twice this month. We have been having great luck in our 400’s with the IsoP alcohol binder with VOHP. We been told that the 310 class machines seem to love VOHP and that they drink Rice Cooking wine straight out of the jug. We suggest that you look on our blog for the post(s) on Saturation. Send pics of your work and we’ll post.

  9. Cindy Cook says:

    Hi! This is a great site. I am wanting to make casting molds for doing glass fusing. I bought Hydroperm to make my firing molds. I have purchased a low firing clay that I plan to use to create my initial models. Can any of you that have worked with Hydroperm tell me if I must coat the clay with a mold release so as to easily remove it from the Hydroperm mold? Perhaps a mold release such as Boron Nitride? The clay is called “Zebra Clay”. If my kiln fired high enough I would create clay casts instead of those made from Hydroperm. Should I allow my clay model to harden before pouring the Hydroperm over it?

    Thanks for your advice! Cindy

    • admin says:

      Cindy, aren’t you from one of the glass forums? If so, welcome! If the Zebra Clay is porous when dry or fired, you will need some type of release. We tend to use Murphy’s Oil Soap as it is a great sealant and it can be buffed after it dries. Hydroperm behaves just like #1 Pottery plaster. The other choice you might think about, is to directly carve the cast hydroperm. We have
      been very happy with hydroperm as a glass mold. If you whip it (like the directions describe), please let us know.

  10. what brand of rice wine are you using? When I look online I find a variety – sweet, regular, with a varying amount of alcohol. I see the numbers on the label of what you use, what is it and where can I find it? Thanks!

  11. kyle says:

    Dennis, see this post to answer your question: (
    Question for Open3DPer’s: Our USGhydroperm does not spread well. Both bins are smooth when the spreader operates, except in the build bin within one-two inches of the divider it is consistently clumpy. Here’s a picture of what I mean ( Should i filter? anyone else had this issue? exciting to be experimenting!

    • admin says:

      Kyle, yes we’ve seen this from time to time. It seems to come and go (we assume that it is humidity related). New powder seems to be more prone to this behavior.

  12. kyle says:

    thanks for the response! it does seem to come-and-go. It’s gone right now 🙂 we were thinking humidity as well. and we noticed it in new powder as well.
    We’ve been running saturation tests and logging/saving our results. We haven’t found a workable solution. Either it’s too saturated and binder ‘drips’ through layers and floods the bottom layers, or, its not saturated enough and the hydroperm doesn’t set up, and disintegrates quickly–we tried baking these for various times/temperatures, with no success (still disintegrates with very low stress). In all cases the damp strength is very weak and deforms when touched. We were so confused we did some hydroperm+binder in paper cups this morning just to make sure the binder can really set the hydroperm, which it did, rock solid. Any thoughts? Maybe we need to modify our layer thickness. Currently its very fine: 0.0875mm.

  13. […] up the used 400.  Add HydroPerm.  Fill the binder reservoir with rice wine.  Do not self-print (i.e., drink the sake binder) […]

  14. […] piece was produced by direct 3D printing in hydroperm and then kiln casting in glass. The results are quite amazing (almost good enough to eat). […]

  15. Larry Palmer says:

    I have done some reading on your research on making 3-D
    > printing on way to becoming affordable. I was hoping that you could
    > steer me in the right direction to come up with an alternative power
    > and binder. We have an old Spectrum Z 510 by Z-Corp. This has become
    > a constant Budget issue with today’s economy. It would be appreciated
    > if you had any suggestions. I would gladly share any info or
    > experiences I have with this adventure as well.
    > Sincerely,
    > Larry Palmer

    • ganter says:

      I think that you could just donate the 510 machine to our lab and we will make sure it gets
      used in an economic manner (and that it will be cared for and loved).

      510 and 310 use very similar head technology. As such, many people (on the web) have been
      successful using hydroperm with sake (check out the yahoo z402 group). If you are printing
      mostly in monochrome mode, this is a workable solution. If you need color, then stay with the
      commercial color binders (as we have no experience to offer).

      • Larry Palmer says:

        Wouldn’t food coloring in the Rice wine be effective?

        • ganter says:

          Yes, that would work just fine BUT they are many issues. Hydroperm is not white. It is grey. Next, there’s the whole big thing about CYM printing concept. Lastly, you will need to get ink dyes. None of that has been explored and/or tested. Perhaps, you could be
          the first.

  16. AJ says:

    Does the HydroPerm work with current zcorp binder? And does anyone know how hydroperm works out in the newer printers like a 150?

    Thanks for the research, I’m so excited if this works out, even if it turns out to be grey.

    • ganter says:

      AJ, It should (it’s a low risk/low cost test). We haven’t heard any reports of “in the wild” use in a 150 machine.
      Please send us a brief report to share and we will be happy to let people know (with credit of course).

  17. AJ says:

    i definitely will report back once I try it out, but might be some time before I do since I bought a 5 gal drum of dental plaster not too long ago, which works really well for models at half the price of Zcorp’s powder. But this would be amazing if it works well. I’m mostly interested in its use for metal casting. And yes, extremely awesome with the price point. How fine is the powder? I hear good things for 300/500 series printers when using them for ceramic powders. I even talked to the owner of Viridis3D in person, great guy, they recommended me to get a 300 series instead of using my 150, but I figure it’s just because it’s uncharted territory.

  18. Larry Palmer says:

    FYI. I have had some very good luck using the Hydro Perm right out of the bag, with Distilled water as my Binder. Crank up your Saturation levels and it works.

  19. Larry Palmer says:

    I have been working with the Hydroperm for a about 2 weeks off and on and have found Distilled water to work great as a binder. The Rice wine works well but it was causing issues with my print heads.

    • ganter says:

      Larry, thanks for sharing. We’ve found distilled had a little too high of surface tension. For Rice Wine, did you
      use the type with salt (for cooking)? Cooking wines have salt to make them non-drinkable. The salt is VERY hard
      on the printheads (it tends to “eat” them).

      If you were not using cooking rice wine, could you please share what issues that you encountered.

  20. Larry Palmer says:

    I was using the (cooking) Rice Wine. Have you used Sake? Or do I need to find authentic Rice Wine?

    Thank you

  21. Thomas says:

    So glad to find this great site. I have a 510 that I am now about to try some Hydroperm and distilled water in.The goal of this is to make molds for casting small scale prototype engine parts in. Has anyone found a substitute for the washer fluid. It seems pricey and for a retired guy on a budget by the time I ship it through customs etc it can really add up. Thanks in advance and I will let you know how my tests go

  22. Bob says:

    I want to determine if a 70% alumina, calcium aluminate cement, in particular Secar 71 Cement from Kerneos, can be used as the powder along with water as the binder in 3D Printing. This material is very similar to Hydroperm in that it reacts with water to form a hydraulic bond. However, the reaction time is on the order of 6 to 8 hours, instead of the 30 to 45 minutes for Hydroperm. All I need is someone to make me three 7 x 1 x 1 inch bars to prove the concept before I spend any money on a 3D Printer. I will supply the Secar 71 Cement. Please let me know if anyone is interested in doing this preliminary work for me. Thanks.

    • ganter says:

      Dear Bob, yes we have the ability to test this material. Generally you can test it yourself on the bench using plastic lids and a $1 sample hairspray bottle (empty it out and clean it and fill it with any “binder” you like).
      Fill the plastic lids (maybe 5-10) with powder & lightly pack it (LIGHTLY). Mist each lid with binder to various amounts. Let the set. You will know. Generally anything that works as a bench test works in a 3D printer.
      Also, you will need materials that are screened with a 400 mesh screen.

      If you wanted us to do this, then the UW would likely feel that it owned all the IP associated with this material even though one of our patent attorneys told us that “no new material system would likely be defendably patentable”.

      • Bob says:

        Dear Mark, I will give the “Bench Test Procedure” you describe above a try. For you information, I have mixed the Secar 71 Cement (70% Alumina, Calcium Aluminate Cement) together with water and poured the mixture into 7 x 1 x 1 inch bar molds and these set up “rock hard” overnight. Therefore, I am fairly confident that I will be successful with the “Bench Test Procedure.” However, the reason we do experiments is to prove (or disprove) our theories! Thanks for yorr help and I will keep you posted.

  23. Ravi says:

    I recently acquired a z310 printer and have had success with replacing the binder using water, glycerol, alcohol and a surfactant with zp130 powder. I just tried Hydroperm and the roller really started to squeal during every cycle. Is Hydroperm similar to Zcast in that the scraper blade needs to be removed?
    The finished product had great green strength but was much more coarse and lacking detail. My settings were the same as zp130 which was 100% saturation. What do you suggest for saturation? I have also ordered other powders and will be testing them as well. Thanks for your help.

    • ganter says:

      You might need to clean the roller after each build and/or oil your roller bearings. I believe that hydroperm may have more fine particles and thus produce more airborne dust. It is not likely to need the scraper blade.

      You will need to adjust you saturation settings to get optimal prints. Try test bars (10x10x100 mm) with various settings. Let them sit in the bed the proper amount of time.

  24. Edward Aylward says:

    Patent No. 5,534,059

  25. Berkal says:

    Has anyone tested this with a zcorp 650 or Projet 660Pro? I’d love to know what procedures as well as settings you used.

    Thanks in advance,

  26. Berkal says:

    Does this work with the Projet 660Pro? How do colors turn out on this printer with this powder?

    • ganter says:

      If you would be so kind as to send us a Project660Pro, we will be happy to test this powder-machine combination. Seriously, I would guess that VOHP is not as white as the commercial powder (it is one of the things that the corporation has worked VERY hard to get right).

  27. Terry M. says:

    I just received a bag of Hydroperm yesterday and let it sit in the oven at 170F before adding it to the feed tray, to rid it of any moisture. I was getting poor spreading into the build tray prior to this, but after the attempt to remove the moisture it appeared acceptable.

    Unfortunately, all saturation levels using a water-based binder that works fine with stock materials yields poor layer adhesion.

    Here are some photos of the layers after one is printed and the sweeper makes a pass on top:

    Any suggestions?

    • ganter says:

      We somethings get this problem (you can get it this exact problem with real commercial powder). What we find is this powder will get better after recycling it once.

  28. jason says:

    how is the hydro perm and distilled water working out for the guys who are using it? i hav a zcorp 310 and want to try it , what saturation levels should i be using? thanks

  29. […] USG hydroperm or other high quality dental plasters, bound with rice wine?[source]; […]

  30. Carlos says:

    Hi guys,

    I’m really impressed with your work!.

    Could you tell me why rice wine is more suitable than water to make the plaster sets and hardens?.

    Best regards,


  31. Carlos says:

    Hi guys,

    I’m really impressed with your work!.

    Could you tell me why rice wine is more suitable than water to make the plaster sets and hardens?.

    Best regards,


    • ganter says:

      Carlos, it’s not the rice wine is better at setting plaster BUT rather rice wine is close to the fluid properties of inkjet ink. Water is very far from inkjet fluid (too high of surface tension). On the good side, rice wine usually has some salt WHICH DOES help the plaster set (but the salt eats the printheads).

      You also might try sake wine.

  32. Nicolas says:

    Hey thanks for the post,
    we are currently printing out test strips for different saturation levels on our 310+. 47.7% saturation is the highest the machine will do and it seems to be too much, the edges are bleeding out, the powder is retracting early and the thin edges curl up.
    Does anyone have a magic saturation number I can try, are you using the same saturation on the edges and core? Thx.

  33. josh says:

    Has anyone used this or a different recipe in the 510 zcorp? I would like to get the color binder recipes if anyone has one as well as the powder that works well together. Really tired of the high priced materials. Would like to focus on creating and not selling the farm just to buy materials each time for the machine.

    • I just started to use the USG Hydroperm in my 150. First print with factory binder and factory setting and not letting it sit turned to dust with the first touch. Going to check again and let it sit and see the difference in green strength.

      • Japes says:

        I am well over 140-150% on zp130 preset after an hour or two I can remove but somewhat easy to ruin pulling out

        • ganter says:

          Are you running a Z310 or Z310+ (with heater)?

          Several things: 1.) try letting it “dry” over night. 2.) if you have a 310+ then trying turning up the chamber temperature. 3.) if you don’t have a 310+ with a heater, get a convection oven (i.e. pizza oven), and try baking them at something less than 200 F.

  34. Miro says:

    Hello guys,

    Can anybody please tell me whether water based ink that I found on internet can be used in projet 660pro instead of original binder?

    Thank you

    Best regards


  35. I’ve read everything I can on the subject, but like others, I am getting parts that just crumble apart – even after 24 hours.

    I am using cheap whine as the binder since they don’t sell sake up here in the mountains. I’ll pick some up next time I drive into the city. Apparently you can’t buy it online since its considered alcohol.

    I have tried printing using the highest saturation possible, which seems to be with the ZB56/ZP102 powder setting with the shell bumped up to 110% and the core at 220%. These settings give it a binder/volume ratio of 0.413228.

    Are the powder settings the same besides the binder/volume ratio, bleed compensation, scaling, layer thickness? What powder profile(s) have been successfully used with HydroPerm?

    Wine should work, right?

  36. Since I couldn’t find a forum for ZPrinter users, I went ahead and created one! If you might consider joining, and/or help to spread the word, I would very much appreciate it! It’s at: . I hope to see you there!

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