What is ColorJet Printing/ZPrinting?
In 1993, Binder Jetting technology was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. One of the licensee of the technology was Zcorp or Zcoproration, which named built 3D printers based on binder jetting and renamed the technology Zprinitng (as in printing on the Z axis). When Zcopr was acquired by 3D Systems, the stereolithography market leader, in the early 2000’s, the company began offering binder systems and renamed its technology Color Jet Printing (CJP) since, with the addition of an inkjet head, it was able to color outer layer, and thus the surface of the parts.
How does ColorJet Printing/Zprinting work?
As in many other rapid prototyping processes, in CJP/Zprinting the part to be printed is built up from many thin cross-sections of the 3D model. In ZPrinters, an inkjet-like printing head moves across a bed of powder, selectively depositing a liquid binding material in the shape of the section. A fresh layer of powder is spread across the top of the model, and the process is repeated. When the model is complete, unbound powder is automatically removed. Parts can be built on a ZPrinter at a rate of approximately 1 vertical inch per hour, which makes it one of the fastest technologies available today. In Color Jet Printing, the outer edge of each layer is colored resulting in fully colored final objects.
Available CJP/ZPrint 3D printers:
While ceramics materials are still used mainly in legacy Zcorp 310 and 510 systems, due to their high accessibility in terms of cost (used systems are available for a few thousand dollars), the most advanced system to 3D print ceramics using Zprinting/CJP technology is the ProJet 660 Pro 3D printer from 3D Systems.
|Model||ProJet 660 Pro|
|Effective Build Volume||200 x 200 x 250|
|Layer Thickness||100 μm|
You can find more information and the specifications for the machines here.
Further reading on 3D Systems and CJP/Zprint:
• SmarTech Issues First Report on Traditional and Technical Ceramics AM
• Underperforming 3D Systems Still Sold $153M Worth of AM in Q3
• Ceramics, Breaking Through the Next 3D Printing Material Frontier / Part 2