August 16, 2010
Low Cost 3D Printing Comes to AEC
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News

Low Cost 3D Printing Comes to AEC

By Susan Smith

Vice president of product management for ZCorp Joe Titlow spoke with AECWeekly recently about two new machines introduced in July at an entry level price point, ZPrinter 150 (monochrome, $14,900) and ZPrinter 250 (multicolor, $24,900). These machines have a small physical footprint ideal for the classroom, department, or small business and are particularly well suited for AEC firms.

Model created with ZPrinter 250

"They're really targeted at the 3D printing applications as opposed to manufacturing but customers sometimes end up using our technology for manufacturing as well,” said Titlow. “The new low price of acquisition, as low of $15,000 now with all the benefits of being office friendly, easy to use, safe, clean, as well as being fast and inexpensive, makes it an easy acquisition.”

The new ZPrinters are not desktop models but have a build size 9.3 x 7.3 x 5 inches (236 x 185 x 127 mm) that is similar to what is seen on some desktop models. Titlow said they built the 3D printers into a floor standing unit, and cut down on the footprint of the unit to make it more compact, rather than offering a desktop model. He said most desktop models require a stand anyway, so why not build a stand into the design so that the unit can fit comfortably next to the desk.

ZPrinter 150

Titlow said the new releases are quite different from their current entry level 310 product, which is now seven years old. “We still sell a number of them, but what it's missing from the older model is all the technology we've developed recently around ease of use and what we call 'office ability;' all these office friendly features of being clean, quiet and self contained, etc. We took all those features that we debuted at $40K and $60K and now have them down at the $15,000 price point.”

Accessibility is more than about price, said Titlow, as customers want to be able to have a machine that will fit into a space and be easy to use plus have low operating costs.

The audience for the monochrome ZPrinter 150 are typically customers who are looking more at the shape, geometry and physical structure of a part rather than the appearance. In architecture, for example, they want white and want to just get the geometry of the part correct. They will either use it for an ergonomic, fit or functional evaluation and they want to be able to make several iterations of the design.

The color models such as the new ZPrinter 250 are designed for people who want to do that plus make something that looks better, and communicate or give more information. “It doesn't necessarily have to be a model with a perfect appearance, but it will be a complex model with a lot of parts. They want to be able to highlight different parts of an assembly in color,” Titlow said. Customers can also enhance 3D models with graphics, logos, text, labels, and design comments.

The ZPrinter 250 and other color ZPrinters are the only 3D printers capable of simultaneously printing in multiple colors.

ZPrinter 150/250 specifications include:

  • Resolution: 300 x 450 dpi
  • Minimum Feature Size: 0.016 inches (0.4 mm)
  • Vertical Build Speed: 0.8 inch/hour (20 mm/hour)
  • Build Size: 9.3 x 7.3 x 5 inches (236 x 185 x 127 mm)

  • Both new ZPrinters incorporate automation features first offered in the midrange ZPrinter 450, including automatic setup, automatic powder loading, and self-monitoring of materials and print status.

    ZCorp is also very conscientious about the environment, and all their ZPrinters use the ZP 150 material that has the following features:
  • Quiet, safe, odor free
  • Closed-loop powder loading, removal and recycling
  • Continuous negative pressure contains airborne particles within the machine
  • Eco-friendly, non-hazardous build material (plaster)
  • Zero liquid waste
  • No physical support structures to remove with dangerous cutting tools or toxic chemicals
  • Noise-suppression technologies for quiet, intrusion-free operation
  • All unused materials are recycled for the next build, eliminating waste

  • With the lower price and ease of use of these two ZPrinter models, more AEC professionals will be able to adopt 3D printing technology.

    Top News of the Week

    A new Irish start up company,
    SmartBuilder Software was formed earlier this year to develop mobile software for use on construction sites both internationally and in Ireland. The company has launched an new iPhone application which helps builders save money.

    This new app gives the contractor the ability to record and action sub-contractors to clean up by a set date or face penalties. Sending them these warning notices gets them moving quickly to rectify the problem and so prevents the contractor from having to pay for the clean up himself. It also has a handy report function for benchmarking sub-contractor performance.

    Informative Graphics Corporation (IGC) announced an integration partnership with
    Systemates, Inc. Offering construction management solutions to the construction, government, education and retail industries, Systemates has integrated IGC's Brava! viewer into its Projectmates software. Combined with Brava's proven viewing and collaboration capabilities, Projectmates delivers a secure, sophisticated web-based construction management software solution.

    Alliances, Agreements, Acquisitions

    Meridian Systems announced a new Consulting Partner agreement with
    Palazzo Inc. serving AEC and real estate clients, Palazzo will provide comprehensive consulting services to Meridian Prolog and Proliance software users.

    Building Systems Design, Inc. (BSD) and
    Submittal Exchange, LLC announced a strategic partnership for joint marketing of BSD SpecLink and Submittal Exchange, the primary products of the two companies.


    Autodesk, Inc. announced the expanded availability of the Associate Certification exam to 165 countries through an alliance with Pearson VUE Testing Centers, a leading provider of global computer-based services. This partnership provides opportunities to Autodesk customers and partners in markets where certification has not been previously available, enabling them to certify their 2D and 3D technology skills and remain competitive in the global marketplace.

    Autodesk, Inc. announced the results of the AutoCAD 2011 software Productivity Study. David S. Cohn Consulting compared the productivity of AutoCAD 2011 to AutoCAD 2008 on typical AutoCAD design processes in a variety of industries. The consulting firm concluded that AutoCAD 2011 showed an average productivity improvement of 31 percent for users who upgrade from AutoCAD 2008 to AutoCAD 2011, and a 44 percent overall productivity improvement for users who upgrade to AutoCAD 2011 and Windows 7, while also upgrading to a new HP Z200 workstation.

    Deltek, Inc. announced financial results for its second quarter ended June 30, 2010.

    Q2 license revenue was $14.5 million, compared with $15.8 million in the second quarter of 2009. Maintenance and support revenue in the second quarter was $32.7 million, compared with $31.0 million in the prior year. Consulting services revenue for Q2 was $13.5 million, compared to $19.2 million in Q2 2009. Total revenue for the second quarter of 2010 was $64.5 million, compared with $69.4 million in Q2 2009.

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