The Z400 adventure

Powder and inkjet printing
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dragonator
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The Z400 adventure

Post by dragonator » Wed Mar 06, 2019 5:21 pm

The sequel to viewtopic.php?f=8&t=5627.

I now own a Zcorp Z400, given to me by Wonko (Many thanks). It currently resides at my local hackerspace, the Tkkrlab, where I hope to restore it to a working condition.

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I will give a TL;DR here, but below I want to discuss how I plan to share the repair.

In the page linked above, Wonko offered his Z400 for anyone willing to pick it up. Naturally, I was really interested and arranged to pick it up.

With a trailer and 2 friends I drove the 150km from Enschede to Krefeld to pick it up. A few lessons I learned that day:
  • Pick a car capable of pulling the trailer. My car was pulling a trailer with a hood against the wind. The 2 hour journey to Krefeld I did not get to my highest gear and was running 1/6. (The return trip with wind from behind was a breeze).
  • Pick the date better. 3 March was carnival in Krefeld. To say it was busy was an understatement.
  • Have a backup plan. My original plan was to lift it to my apartment at the 3rd floor. This idea was quickly shot down after lifting the printer in the trailer. Backup was the hackerspace.
So far I have pulled out the harddrive and made a backup image of the Z400's HDD. This was noted as a big risk, so I am really happy that it still works. If anyone does need a disc image for a Z400, DM me and I can mail it to you.

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Now for the rest. There is still plenty to do. The entire machine needs to be cleaned. All power supplies need to be checked. The electronics boards need to be confirmed working. I need to power it up to see if the basics still move. I need to clean the tubes and maybe replace ribbon cables. I need to check and grease all moving parts.

I would like to keep a journal of me trying to get the machine to work, in the hope that it is interesting to some, and to provide reference for anyone trying this. I am however not sure I like to use this forum for that. Mainly the upload limit on images, replies between posts and the inability to save proper drafts means I cannot write it down easily. I now have 2 options:
  • Post progress on the forum despite the limitations;
  • Make a series of pages on the main website.
Option 2 speaks to me the most right now, but I can be convinced to do it differently right now.

Until the next update.

frankie
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Re: The Z400 adventure

Post by frankie » Thu Mar 07, 2019 2:47 am

should be interesting

david
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Re: The Z400 adventure

Post by david » Fri Mar 08, 2019 6:53 pm

That's really cool. What slicing software this Z400 is using? is it capable of printing in colour?

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Re: The Z400 adventure

Post by dragonator » Thu May 02, 2019 5:38 pm

I have been keeping track of the progress on the Z400 as a blog.

It can be found here: https://ytec3d.com/the-z400-blog-part-3/

TL;DR: All power supplies and HDD are tested and work. The transformer is installed and the machine has booted for the first time. Now there is a big list of mechanical points to see if the Z400 can be made to work.
david wrote:
Fri Mar 08, 2019 6:53 pm
That's really cool. What slicing software this Z400 is using? is it capable of printing in colour?
Apologies for the lack of response. The Zcorp uses proprietary software to control the Z400. There are later Zcorp printers that do print in color, but the Z400 is not one of them (The Z402 is).

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Re: The Z400 adventure

Post by dragonator » Sun May 26, 2019 9:11 am

More time, more progress.

The Z400 prints!



I still need to do a lot of small tasks, but it seems that I can get this machine to work again. More details in the blog.

https://ytec3d.com/the-z400-blog-part-5/

Wonko
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Re: The Z400 adventure

Post by Wonko » Mon May 27, 2019 9:32 pm

Loving it! ;-)

maxt
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Re: The Z400 adventure

Post by maxt » Tue Jun 11, 2019 5:16 pm

Hi Dragonator,

saw your blog post on the first print, well done ! if you're using zcorp powder then the water/alchool binder should be just fine. If you got a brittle part this should be related to the quantity of binder ejected. Probably not enough. Don't know if the control SW allows you to regulate the saturation. If so you might want to do some tests, before throwing away binder and powder.

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Re: The Z400 adventure

Post by dragonator » Wed Jun 12, 2019 4:00 pm

I am not yet at the point of throwing the powder away, but it is odd.

The part is not really brittle. After a day of drying, the part can easily be handled. It is just that the binder bleeds significant amounts (2-3mm), completely ruining the part. I tried reducing the saturation, but that did nothing. Either the material that prevents the bleeding is saturated and no longer stopping the binder from bleeding, or the binder I have (literally water with alcohol) is not the right type of binder for the powder.

I can test this, but simply loading the binder in will waste 200ml, and I do not really have the amounts needed to make this test. I have more time with HP45 printheads planned. I do plan on making a tiny 3DP printer so I can test binder and powder combinations.

maxt
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Re: The Z400 adventure

Post by maxt » Thu Jun 13, 2019 11:13 am

dragonator wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 4:00 pm
I am not yet at the point of throwing the powder away, but it is odd.

The part is not really brittle. After a day of drying, the part can easily be handled. It is just that the binder bleeds significant amounts (2-3mm), completely ruining the part. I tried reducing the saturation, but that did nothing. Either the material that prevents the bleeding is saturated and no longer stopping the binder from bleeding, or the binder I have (literally water with alcohol) is not the right type of binder for the powder.

I can test this, but simply loading the binder in will waste 200ml, and I do not really have the amounts needed to make this test. I have more time with HP45 printheads planned. I do plan on making a tiny 3DP printer so I can test binder and powder combinations.
I have tested the water/alchool mix (IPA between 5% and 10% but depends on the printhead) with two types of powder: zcorp (plaster+pva) and a syntetic ceramic powder. The latter one had similar water to powder ratio as pure plaster (it is sold as plaster replacement with stronger resistance).

The print results of the syntetic ceramics was great. Definetly equivalent, and a lot cheaper, to zcorp, perfect both in shape and colors. Unfortunately I can't use it because it does not flow as smoothly as the zcorp and it took me two full days to unclog the vacum conducts of the printer :-(

However it didn't contain any PVA or other additions. The conclusion is that the PVA may help the print but it's not at all necessary, as long as the ratio water to powder is correct... maybe it helps the flowability :o if I ever dare to try again

If your main issue is the binder bleeding, you can add a few drops (really, few drops) of some surfactant to the binder. This will reduce the surface tension of the binder, and consequently it's capillarity. It will flow more easily from the head nozzles and will remain more concentrated in the powder. Too much surfactant and your head will start leaking.

As surfactant I use PS20/Tween 20, which can be procured easily online, search the sites that sell components/chemicals to create cosmetics.

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Re: The Z400 adventure

Post by dragonator » Thu Jun 13, 2019 4:12 pm

I do like that tip, I will try that one. I will order the Tween 20 this weekend and add it to the binder.

I will report back when I have results.

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