Zcorp has long made powder based 3D print systems for 3D printing color models. Zcorp is now departing from its basic technology with its introduction of a “high end” system, the Zbuilder Ultra. The Zbuilder user a photopolymer is a process similar to SLA (stereolithography). This would mean that Zcorp can now 3D print in plastic and at high detail. The deviation on parts would be around 0.2 mm and the minimum feature size would be 138 microns. Around the office a few of us felt it reminded us rather a lot of the EnvisionTEC Perfactory and the EnvisionTEC Ultra. Although the resemblance and the fact that both the EnvisionTEC Ultra and the Zbuilder Ultra have the same Ultra name and resolution of 138 Microns is probably just a coincidence. The system uses a DLP projector and is touted as being twice as fast as
existing rapid manufacturing systems. They seem to want to position it surely against the Stratasys FDM machines. It would cost $34,900. This heats up the price point near the Stratasys Dimension systems and the entry level Objet systems. You can see a movie about the Zbuilder here.
This move by Zcorp is going to make things in 3D printing land very interesting. Up and until now most 3D printing companies were founded on a single technology and contnue to exploit and improve this one technology. 3D Systems has two technologies (their original SLA technology and SLS Selective Laser Sintering). But, they were the exception. Stratasys only does FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling),the technology Stratasys’ foundere developed and commercialized for example. A choice for a technology in most cases meant a choice for a particular vendor and vice versa. This year most of the mayor 3D printing patents are expiring. This could mean that the vendors could even perhaps use each other’s technologies. This would make competition much more interesting. We all understood that the HP and Stratasys distribution deal would change a lot of things and Zcorp embracing an additional technology is just one of the many ripple effects we will see.