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ZCorp (Z Corp Three-Dimensional Printing) – Ink-jet based process that
prints the parts cross sectional geometry on layers of powder spread on top of each
other. This process enables models to be built quickly and affordably. Models may
also be printed in color.
Z Corp 3D printing is similar to the SLS method except instead of using a laser to sinter
material together a print head dispenses a solution to bind the powder together. The Z Corp
system consists of the following parts: feed piston, build piston, spreading apparatus and
print head gantry. The feed piston is used to measure and dispense powder that is spread
across the build piston by means of a spreading apparatus. Once the initial layer is spread,
the lowest cross section of the part is printed by spraying a binder solution on the powder
substrate by means of an inkjet print head on the print head gantry. After the initial layer
is printed, the feed piston raises one layer thickness and the build piston lowers one thickness
and the spreader then spreads a layer of powder over the first cross section. The print heads
are then used to print the next layer. This process continues until the part is completed. Once
the part has been completed and the binder has been allowed to dry sufficiently, the part can be
removed and excess powder can be blown off of the part. Like SLS, no support structures are needed
because the excess powder on the build piston acts as a support during the build. Once the part is
de-powdered, the part can be finished using infiltrants, varying from wax, cyanoacrylate and epoxy
materials, to increase strength and achieve a desirable finish.
The Z Corp based 3DP technology allows parts to be built very quickly and inexpensively. This makes
these types of models excellent for visual aids and concept models. The downside to the technology
is that the surface finish, accuracy and strength are poor compared to some other methods.
The material selection is limited to two choices: plaster or starch. We recommend that the plaster
based system be used in general as it is more durable and gives better resolution. The starch should
be used only if you are making investment molds. After the part is printed, it should be infiltrated.
The infiltrants are limited to wax, cyanoacrylate (superglue) and Z Max epoxy. The printing process
allows parts to be printed in full color, just like an inkjet printer.