Inkjet, Binder Jetting, saturation, balling, additive manufacturing, Washburn infiltration


Binder Jetting (BJ) is a low-cost Additive Manufacturing (AM) process that uses inkjet technology to selectively bind particles in a powder bed. BJ relies on the ability to control, not only the placement of binder on the surface but also its imbibition into the powder bed. This is a complex process in which picoliter-sized droplets impact powder beds at velocities of 1-10 m/s. However, the effects of printing parameters such as droplet velocity, size, spacing, and inter-arrival time on saturation level (fraction of pore space filled with binder) and line formation (merging of droplets to form a line) are unknown. Prior attempts to predict saturation levels with simple measurements of droplet primitives and capillary pressure assume that droplet/powder interactions are dominated by static equilibrium and neglect the impact of printing parameters. This study analyzes the influence of these parameters on the effective saturation level and conditions for line formation when printing single lines into powder beds of varied materials (316 stainless steel, 420 stainless steel, and alumina) and varied particle size (d50 = 10-47 microns). Results show that increasing droplet velocity or droplet spacing decreases effective saturation while droplet spacing, velocity, and inter-arrival time affect line formation. At constant printing velocity, the conditions for successful line printing are shown to be a function of droplet spacing and square root of the droplet inter-arrival time analogous to the Washburn model for infiltration into a porous media. The results have implications to maximizing build rates and improving quality of small features in BJ.

Original Publication Citation

Trenton Colton, Nathan B. Crane, “Influence of droplet velocity, spacing, and inter-arrival time on line formation and saturation in binder jet additive manufacturing”, Additive Manufacturing, ADDMA-D-20-1303, Accepted 11/10/2020.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Additive Manufacturing




Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology


Mechanical Engineering

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor

Available for download on Wednesday, June 14, 2023