Z Corporation produces several 3D printer models that range in output size from 8 by 10 by 8 inches to 10 by 14 by 8 inches. There are three dimensions in this printer, compared to two available in average printers. This is because these products can be used to create models of terrain, topographical maps and even models of parts and assemblies. The output can be generated from mapping programs that support 3D, 3D CAD programs or 3D modeling programs. In addition Z Corporation has their own software for STL, VRML and PLY formats that allows for 3D viewing, text labeling and scaling, for fine-tuning prior to printing.
The Z Corporation printers have five basics process functions to create a 3D model.
- a special powder is feed to the print surface
- a roller spreads the powder on the print surface at a pre-determined depth (note that this takes just seconds to complete)
- standard inkjet print heads (a total of 4 print heads to form a CYMK color base including clear) apply color the initial layer of powder
- the layer of powder is solidified
- the print surface is lowered for another layer of powder
- This process repeats until the entire 3D model is completed
The combination of the powder and the ink jet colour forms a bond and become solid. So if there is no printing done at a given location or layer, the powder remains only powder. At the end of the printing process, the pure powder is blown out leaving an output that is reflects the original drawing or model. Depending on the size and complexity of the output, typically this takes less than half an hour.
The printers from Z Corporation do a truly remarkable job and it is most impressive how fast and at a very low cost you are now able to create prototypes.