3D modeller adds rapid prototyping in functional plastic
3D printing and scanning specialist Z Corporation has added rapid prototyping to its product range, with a machine that prints in plastic, rather than the powder-and-glue technology used by its existing printers.
The ZBuilder Ultra builds durable and functional plastic parts that rival injection moulding for accuracy, material properties, detail, and surface finish, said Z Corp. Available from July, it will list for 29,955 Euro, which the company claimed made it around one-third the price of machines with comparable performance.
The device builds parts additively, using a high-resolution Digital Light Processor (DLP) projector to solidify a liquid photopolymer. DLP technology is more commonly used in video projectors, and it allows a whole layer to be written in one go, with no need for a laser to laboriously trace the layer out and then fill it in. This enables the ZBuilder Ultra to build parts at around half an inch (12.7mm) per hour, Z Corp said - and its speed is independent of the number of parts in the build.
The DLP system also gives very high resolution - part features can be accurate to within 0.2mm, with a minimum feature size of 0.138mm. The finished parts also lack the stepped and layered appearance of 3D prototypes produced using other technologies, such as thermal extrusion. The printer has a build volume of 260x160x190mm.
The ZBuilder Ultra is based on technology licensed from Envisiontec; indeed, it appears to be a version of the Envisontec Ultra 3D printer. While Envisiontec has done well in areas such as jewellery and the medical industry, Z Corp will now take the technology to its core markets in mainstream design and engineering.