Thursday, 14 January 2016

Why more is better - mostly

We started out in 2013 with a single ZPrinter 650. Six months later we bought a second and last year we added a third (Projet 660 to be precise).

It might seem obvious that more is better but its not just about increasing capacity and enabling larger jobs to be taken on. 

Better Colour

The ZPrinter 650/ProJet 660 is a full colour machine printing from five printheads. These heads needs to be aligned and unfortunately the "automatic" head alignment does not always work well for a number of reasons. Having more printers allows you to choose the better aligned printer to print best colour. If you have only one machine, guess what, the colour you get is the colour you get. 

Better Prints

With three printers it is easier to choose the best orientation to print a part. If you are busy and you just have the one printer, well you just have to squeeze the work in. This might sound trivial but part orientation is often the difference between great parts and parts that are just ok.

Quicker Prints

The Z Corporation technology bought by 3D Systems and sold as the ProJet x60 range is famed for being one of the fastest 3D printers available. 

One of the big selling points of this machine is that it is fast, allowing next day delivery of parts. This is a valuable asset in architectural design where speed of delivery can be critical in the early design stages of high value commercial projects.

One way to make a fast printer faster is to have more printers. Scheduling of prints is so much easier with a more machines especially when quick delivery of work is key.

Greater Reliability

The term for this is "redundancy", not a term I like much but the fact is more machines provide greater reliability in delivering work when a machine fails. 

Having a bunch of the same machine also helps. Specialised knowledge of a technology is a great asset, as is carrying spares for a fleet rather than for a single machine.

The downside

Machines that sit idle are prone to failure. So too many machines can lead to unreliability. Balancing load against redundancy is essential. 

Printing parts spread across multiple machines is more expensive. The value offered in terms of speed, quality and reliability needs to be reflected in price. 

For more information about 3D printing at Lee 3D please visit