Wednesday, July 14, 2010

ZPrinter Product Differences

When we make a decision to introduce a new product, it is important to us to increasingly add value to the customer. But value can be interpreted in many different ways. Sometimes more is less. For example, our entry level and education product is the ZPrinter® 310 Plus. This is a legacy product and does not offer many of the automated material handling capabilities of the ZPrinter 350, ZPrinter 450 and ZPrinter 650. So, what’s the difference?

The main feature categories for our printers are build volume, resolution, and color. There are others of course but let’s focus on these. The ZPrinter 310 Plus is a monochrome printer. It can print almost any color you want but just one color at a time. For instance you can put yellow binder in the printer and print yellow parts or you can mix yellow and cyan and print a greenish color part. By mixing yellow, cyan and magenta you can achieve almost any color of the rainbow.

The ZPrinter 450 introduced automated powder and binder handling. The build volume is the same as the ZPrinter 310 Plus (8”x10”x8”) but the loading of binders and powder is fully automated through the use of cartridges. When the printer calls for more binder the user simply plugs in a new cartridge and the printer is ready to go. Any powder that is not part of the model is automatically recycled back into the printer. The ZPrinter 450 is a full color printer. You can paste a jpg image onto your 3D data and it will be printed directly onto your model. This is any color, on demand, just like your color printer at home but in 3D. Resolution for the ZPrinter 310, ZPrinter 350 and ZPrinter 450 is 300 x 450 dpi. This measurement is similar to a home or office inkjet printer.

Automatic Powder Loading on ZPrinter 450

Model printed on ZPrinter 450

The 450 is a very powerful tool but if you need even better color, resolution and size, the ZPrinter 650 is a better choice. With a 10”x15”x8” build volume, 600 x 540 dpi, and a separate black color channel in addition to yellow, cyan and magenta, this printer offers the best color, resolution and print size, in addition to all of the automated material handling features offered in the ZPrinter 450 class.

Model printed on ZPrinter 650

This is just a quick snapshot of how our ZPrinters differ from one another. I hope it is helpful. As always I am curious about your thoughts. Which product characteristic is the most important to you? If we designed a product just for you would what build size would you want? Would it be a color printer or monochrome?


  1. Scott Lake • To be able to print in a durable, biocompatible material.

  2. Norzihan Aziz • It would be good if we can incorporate tailor made colorant in the system.

  3. Torkel Bengtsson • I Would prefere an easy way to switch materials to use in the machine. It should be as easy as refilling coulours. I would also prefere the use of many materials in the same build especially if you could add a transparent material.

    This is not the most important things to me but other neat functions are to add more parts to an ongoing build, simulate diffrent surfaces (for example a wide range of VDI), mount things like studs & gaskets while building.

    If you take a look at the development of ordinary printers. We first got B&W prints and after that coulor became availible to all. Then it was time to launch the multifunctional printers (Print, copy, scan, fax...). I´m sure the 3D printers will go in that direction to. For example it would be nice to have a vaccum chamber in the build area so that i can do some vaccum casting with the molds i have made in the printer. You can also add a 3D scanner in the build area. Just think of the wherewithal for a multifunctional 3D printer....

  4. Mark Cook: Some great comments this week! Rest assured that our materials scientists and engineers are working hard to expand the capabilities of 3D printing as well as the material properties. Look for innovative new products soon and keep those ideas and comments coming. Your feedback helps direct our activities into areas that you are most interested in.

  5. Leslie Langnau • This is a nice, brief summation of ZCorp printers. I found it helpful for selecting a 3D printer that meets your needs.

  6. Antony MiddletonJuly 16, 2010 at 4:29 AM

    Plastic materials like the VoxelJet system

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Anthony plastic or plastic like materials are readily available today, see our ZBuilder Ultra product I'm interested in characteristics of a system that is not available anywhere today. Think of it this way, if any of the 3D printing/RP manufacturers could build you a custom system, what features/capabilities would it have? In this discussion, I'm not interested in vendors, resellers or their customers pushing a particular existing system, asserting that it already meets those criteria. I truly want to know what your dream system would include...

  9. Mickey Dorsey, PE, CSWP • As a small businessman, I would like an affordable desktop printer to be:
    1. Less than $5,000
    2. No maintenance service contract requirement and affordable supplies and parts.
    3. Create models that are durable enough for normal handling and detailed enough to provide the customer with good idea that the product designed will meet his needs.
    4. Be paintable, sandable, machinable, and joinable.
    5. Have an envelope of 12" cube.
    6. Integrate seamlessly with all major 3D Cad Systems
    7. Deposit the model on a reusable base.
    8. Use recycleable material for both the model and the support.(same material)
    I'm not concerned about all the bells and whistles mentioned above, as I know that the more complex the machine, the more prone it is to breakdown. I want a 3D Printer that is as durable as an HP Printer that allows me to communicate with my client without breaking the bank or causing me to dig for business just to keep the machine running to pay for it.

  10. Craig Feldsien • Interesting request! here's some thoughts...

    For the Equipment: A repeatable accuracy over organic/curved surfaces within the 0.05mm range in all three axes allowing a thin-walled object(thin beam diameter/dlp projection resolution) within 0.10mm to 0.15mm, accross a 304.8mm x 304.8mm build area. Also, it would print a 25.4mm tall part with that accuracy within 45minutes. The cost of this Equipment should be below 50k! (heh) faster, easier, cheaper, better.

    For the Software interface: something configurable to handle the one-off prototypes as well as mass-manufacturing and report generation.

    For resin/materials, In addition to biocompatibility, multiple colors and opacities that follow the time specs given above and are robust enough to be printed and packaged.

    For post processing .. eliminate the need for it. Generate a support structure that magically releases itself.

    ... I know I am missing some otherthings ...

  11. Fredrick Hilbrandt • Durable, multiple materials, and about a meter cubed.

  12. Vinay Joshi • 1. which has multiple materials
    2. mainly low cost materials(which are widely available) & durable
    3. mega printers (max size) to small size(for personal) , quick build
    4. easy to use, maintainance
    5. including analyzing software package, with easy steps (free from meshing and manual calculations) to analysis before building + optimizer package


  13. Bill Bickford • As an addition to the posts above, it would be ideal to someday do away with build material. A combination of the absence of build material with the ability to be able to program intentional stops or pauses during build times could allow us to emulate insert or overmolded parts. We could stagger the AM process, add foreign components like metal components or PCBs for example, and then continue the process, incorporating dissimilar parts into the AM process. Imagine automating pick and place components into the AM process!

  14. Scott Lake • +1 to Bill's comment about adding in non-AM objects during the build process.

    I'm guessing his comment to do away with build material actually means to do away with support material that is thrown away after building the modeled object. My understanding of the AM terminology is build material is the actual 'hold it in your hands' material after the AM process is complete, while support material is the temporary material that is discarded and present only to support cantilevered build materials during the AM process.

  15. Julie Reece • Bill great suggestions, which I'll add to this wonderful list! Scott, yes, I suspect you're right. I want to point out though that Z Corp's ZPrinters do not use supports. The resin powder - the build material itself - actually supports the models as they're built. Then, the excess powder is automatically vaccumed back into the printer to be recycled for subsequent builds. So, when the build is done, you simply reach in and pull out your model with your hands - no scraping, cutting, or dissolving any support structures.