Dr Virago Pete's Thermojet Restoration

I am not affiliated with the mfg in any way except for 1 - I own a used discontinued 3d Systems Thermojet (3d Printer) "Concept Modeler" which prints (makes an object) in wax. This machine is commonly used in metal melting foundry work to make a wax object and then through "lost wax casting" techniques to make a metal part such as aluminum or steel or brass or precious metals from this.

I purchased used broken disassembled machine years ago and over time have been cleaning it, buying parts, buying books, buying misc pieces, buying wax for it, acquiring software for it. All of these parts pieces etc were extremely rare and expensive and hard to come by on the used market. It took alot of patience and skill on my part to acquire.

The machine takes up valuable space in my workshop and I feel it is worth ALL of the time, effort, expense to someday have this machine up and running. I have NEVER personally EVER seen one that works in real life. I have seen tidbits of videos on youtube showing a Thermojet - maybe a few second clip here or there.


I have made this page on Sunday 12/9/18 and started to move all of the misc information over from another page which I have been working on for years. I have decided to make this specific page all about my own Thermojet Machine and everything it took to restore it.

Update 12/8/18
I have received a replacement used printhead purchased from big-auction-site for a few bucks. I have been looking for this part for years. The seller had quite a few parts from a dismantled machine all laid out and photographed. The seller wanted to sell all of it as a lot - but one sentence said that they would consider selling separate parts and pieces.

There are a few more parts that I want to buy, but the printheaad is the "holy grail" Based on my experiences in cleaning and studying the hard wax spewed dripped everywhere - I have come to the conclusion - is probably due to the printhead or other related assembly with a leak or crack or pinhole somewhere. I have never powered my machine on and is still pretty disassembled (still from the previous owner that way) and I have been cleaning my machine slowly for years.

Conservation of WAX is important as I paid alot for what I have and took many years to acquire each bottle. I dont want to frivoulously power on my machine only to waste wax and then have to clean/scrape/dissolve the wax again. I want to do it right the first time.

I feel that I now have all the essentials to fully complete my machine. There are a few more small $$$ items like fans that either need to be replaced or cleaned/lubricated.

The same seller has a bunch of fans that look better than mine - that assembly is my next goal to purchase when I save more funds. Im very relieved and glad to have finally purchased a spare printhead (hopefully it is a good one)

Note I have received the printhead and put it inside the disassembled shell of my printer in my workshop. I labeled the box "printhead" so I can easily identify which box it is.

Here are some photos of the printhead from the ad.

Update 12/15/18
I have purchased another assembly from the same seller. This is the assembly which is connected to the printhead assembly and I would imagine has something to do with controlling the printhead. I mostly wanted this due to my own assembly being caked in wax (previous owner did that) which has infested the numerous mini cooling fans.

Whether I replace the whole module or just scavenge all of the little fans and transfer it over - that is yet to be determined. Im glad to find this replacement part and the seller was willing to accomodate my low budget and accepted my offer.

It is wintertime and Im taking a risk buying stuff in the wintertime as my reserve is lowest at this time of year but my utility bills are highest now. So really and truly I should NOT be buying anything now - but I have to - since I will probably never see these parts available for sale again and I would kick myself for not buying.

I feel at this time (when parts arrive I have a pretty good chance at having all of the essentials to get my Thermojet up and running) after swapping those parts. That is my hunch and I feel relieved at finally finding all of the necessary parts to complete my project.

I may buy more of the sellers parts as a spare - at a later date.

Here are some photos from this


The following is a copy/paste from my old webpage which contained alot of topics. I have moved this content here on its very own page as follows:


The above pictures show 3D Systems Thermojet printer (pictures from the ad I purchased from) and also above pictured - the stainless steel sock which was torn so I replaced it (previous owner tried to cram dried wax down the sock? and it tore). Someone on big-auction-site was parting out their Actua printer and the sock was the same - lucky for me as a new replacement part was way beyond my budget. The sock is a stainless mesh 4 microns  as filters the wax as it is melted and goes inside the box hopper. My printer was purchased disassembled and full of spattered wax which is much cleaner now than before. I am still cleaning it as I would like it to be spotless before I power it on (I have not powered it on yet). Also some fans were clogged with caked-on wax. I still have 2 fans to clean and printhead to clean (I dont know how to remove printhead - any tips appreciated). I also purchased a used Actua rubber wiper which also has that same waviness. I also was lucky to find the wiper used as a new part was way beyond my budget. Although not the same - it is adaptable.

3D Systems Thermojet (spare parts, books, software, wax wanted)

I have just recently purchased a used/fixer upper 3D Systems brand 3D Printer called a Thermojet. It is a wax printer which works similar to an inkjet printer but deposits special proprietary wax made just for this printer- hobby store wax should not be used. My machine has quite a bit of wax just spattered throughout the inside. I have cleaned a substantial number of parts and pieces from this wax- with the use of Acetone purchased from a local home improvement store. I have taken my time cleaning a little at a time outdoors. The cleaning up goes slowly as I don't want to overdo it. I wonder if the system (when working) gets pressurized and there may be a hose leak on mine somewhere. Or it may be as simple as the previous owner loading the wax bottle crooked causing a poor seal.

I am looking for extra parts and pieces you may have like

1. Extra printhead

2. Wax bottles

3. Instruction manuals

4. Service Manuals

5. Software

6. Circuit boards, parts, pieces

Definitely worth the effort to restore it. Big job ahead of me removing all of the wax spattered everywhere inside.

My big black printhead cover was full of wax and it clogged all of the airholes. I spent several hours cleaning it and looks perfect now. It has a textured black glossy finish- acetone did not affect the black finish which I suspect may be powdercoating but I may be wrong. I was cautious about using acetone as I felt it might damage the black surface but it did not. I was also cautious about it eating away circuitboard or copper traces or damaging electronic parts- I carefully and quickly cleaned and see no damage. The areas of circuitboards and IC chips I cleaned look perfect and unharmed.

I tried alot of chemicals and the best two are Green Cleaner ($10) and Acetone ($7) in my opinion. I also read that citrus cleaner works too but have not tried it. I like acetone's cleaning ability- it works the best. But the acetone fumes are hazardous and I'm doing a little at a time outdoors.

If you have parts/pieces/wax/books/software for sale/trade etc or experience with this machine I would like to hear your insights etc.

This machine's resolution (for the x,y,z axes they each have their own resolution/dpi  

1" divided by 300dpi = .00333

1" divided by 400dpi = .0025"

1" divided by 600dpi = .0016"

coupled with my 3d scanner's .002" resolution should be a real professional solution for puttting my inventions to real life (then lost wax casted into metal). Keep in mind the thickness of a average human hair is .002" That's amazing detail. I look forward to getting this machine up and running.

At this time, I attribute the wax mess to operator error by previous owner not machine fault from what I see so far. A certain amount of proficently is required in loading a wax bottle correctly and cleaning off wax spatterings so it doesn't build up. I don't see anything broken. I don't see any damaged hoses or any other parts broken.

From everything I researched online - not a single person had anything nasty to say about this printer. I think I found the very best 3d wax printer for my needs which is prototyping and lost wax casting.

Let me know if you have parts and/or supplies for it.

Let me know if you have books and software for it.

Let me know if you have/had issues with your Thermojet as we can compare solutions. Errors you ran into, how you removed wax, parts you replaced etc- I would like to know as it can help me understand this machine better.

Progress on 3D Systems Thermojet printer restore

I have cleaned quite a few parts which were heavily covered in wax spatterings and caked on wax drippings. I used acetone and rubbing alcohol with many ear-cleaning cotton swabs and soft tissues. The machine looks miuch better and I feel better that it is going well. I usuually work for  15 minutes or less at a time and then leave it for the next day as acetone requires much ventilation etc. I have come across 2 parts that need replacement. A filter screen for wax and also a rubber wiper which is warped. Here are 3 photos added. I need to either fix or replace the filter "sock" as it is torn- I can move it up and then reclamp if needed. Also the rubber wiper is warped. (updated 2/2012)

Update 2/13/2012

I have purchased a used $50 filter sock from a seller parting out a 3D Systems Actua printer which looks to me to be an identical filter (same part number printed on it too). Since my filter sock is torn (see photo) I'm glad to have a replacement now.  Since mine is a used filter - I am concerned about the wax coating the filter as it is Actua wax and not Thermojet wax. The difference is the Actua wax is parafin based and the Thermojet wax is not parafin. I will clean out the stainless steel filter very well with acetone before installing it to avoid contamination of wax. I still need to find a rubber wiper (see photos).

Update June 17, 2012 I have purchased 1 bottle of wax which is not sealed. It is my hunch that this is re-melted wax as it has alot of microscopic bubbles. My other bottles have solid wax and there is no bumpiness or microscopic bubbles. This same seller sold me a rubber wiper which is decent but not perfect. The metal is crushed and will need to be straightened. I would like to find another wiper and more bottles of wax. The seller offered to sell all boards and printhead and pumps etc for $200 minus the machine itself and motor and stepper controllers (machine inneed of repair) He plans on converting it to CNC router or other machine - no longer will be a wax printer. I asked him to make a list of what will be included but - he responded that he is in Japan at this time and will check when he gets back home.

A different seller- (a school) sold me 3 wax bottles and then sent my money back saying that their own internal department approval was not given for this sale. The school manager told that person to sell it on big-auction-site. I see these 3 bottles for sale right now on big-auction-site for $1000 as lot price for all 3. I don't think anyone is going to buy this. I hope that they will later reconsider my lower offer and sell to me. You know- they sold the entire machine to someone for approx $225 plus shipping. But the 3 bottles of wax I paid $300 for was refunded as not approved by the manager and they renigged. It just goes to show that the wax is more valuable than the entire (non-working) machine in todays used market. My own fixer upper machine was purchased for approx $160 plus shipping)

Update 3/2013 I am updating this from memory - they ended up selling a few months later for $400 offer (sold to someone else) through big-auction-site. It was a very unscrupulous thing to do to me- I didnt expect that from a school.

Update 11/1/13 I purchased 2ea bottles of 3D Systems Thermojet 45 was for use with Actua printer. I dont have an Actua printer but I purchased this anyways as it might have some trade value towards the wax bottles for Thermojet printer or when my existing bottles of Thermojet wax run out - I am more apt to try to see of the Thermojet 45 bottles would work (I dont know if it would clog or work) as a last resort (hobby store/craft store wax is not a good idea as the wax needs to be ultra clean and special wax). I got a good deal on the 2ea bottles of wax and one is sealed in its original plastic bag and unopened- the other one has been opened by the previous owner but not used. I put the bottlecap on snuggly and used clear packaging tape to reseal the original plastic bag. The plastic bag is now airtight to preserve it as much as humanly possible. As a note of interest - I smelled the wax from the opened bottle and it didnt smell the same as my TJ88 or TJ2000 wax. The Thermojet45 has a smell similar to white school glue rather than wax-like - the beige colored wax didnt look touched or damaged in any way. I am always looking to buy more wax bottles as I plan on making good use of my 3D Printer once I have it working. So far I own 9 original bottles (including the one inside the machine right now which is nearly full)  and 2ea Thermojet 45 bottles which I will leave for last. I hope to find a whole skid-full of wax. I missed purchasing 4ea wax bottles of tj88 which were listed on big-auction-site but I was outbid. A couple of months ago that happened also - where I missed 2ea bottles of Thermojet wax up for auction due to a higher bidder. I paid $35 plus $16 shipping for these 2ea wax bottles. I have added 2ea photos of this wax bottles.

this ends my copy/paste of my previous webpage information. From this point forward it will be my newly added information and pics etc.

Dr Virago Pete
telephone: (847) 454-7858 between 11am and 7pm daily
location: Illinois, USA
email: drviragopete@att.net

This page last updated on 12/15/18