About this project
Zeepro official web site click here
2 colors printed at a 25 to 50 mm/s speed and a 100 microns per layer resolution:
Another 2 colors printed at a 25 to 50 mm/s speed and a 100 microns per layer resolution:
2 colors and PVA support printed at a 25 to 50 mm/s speed and a 150 microns per layer medium resolution:
PVA support printed at a 200 microns per layer medium resolution:
PVA support printed at a 150 microns per layer medium resolution:
50 microns layers! Super fine resolution Cuddling owls:
Gear bearing printed at a 100 microns per layer fine resolution:
Torture test by Make. 50 microns per layer high resolution. 25 mm/s speed:
110 mm/s speed! Block printed at a 400 microns per layer draft resolution. Watch the real-time (true speed) video:
2 colors! Zeepro medallion printed at a 200 microns per layer medium resolution:
They talk about us:
Zim is the first consumer-oriented 3D printer to feature Ethernet & WiFi connectivity, a dual color printing head, an onboard micro-camera, smartphone and tablet control and an exclusive refillable cartridge system. With Zim, 3D Printing is about to go mainstream, as everyone from hobbyists to children will now be able to print high quality 3D objects quickly and safely using various materials and colors.
The Zim project’s unique features include:
Connected, plug & play and user friendly
Zim incorporates built-in Ethernet and WiFi for home and Internet networking, as well as an embedded ARM based PC board. It can be remotely controlled by a smartphone or a tablet (Google Android/Mac iOS/Microsoft Windows Phone); or connected to a Mac or PC. Zim is equipped with a micro camera, so users can check the 3D printing process from another room or while they are on the go.
Dual printing head
Zim is built with one or two extruders. Now users can choose to either print a 3D object in multiple colors, or use one extruder to print in color while using the other extruder to print a support structure in PVA plastic (which dissolves in water).
Exclusive refillable filament cartridge
Zim's cartridge system loads the filaments automatically and safely into the extruders. Cartridges protect PVA from moisture and are convenient to store. Best of all, Zim’s cartridges are available in a rainbow of colors, and Zeepro offers a refillable cartridge for those who want to use their own filament.
Precise and fast
Zim features a fine resolution (as low as 50 microns per layer) with a print volume of 205 cubic inches (5.9”x5.9”x5.9”). Zim prints 3D objects at a fast speed (up to 110 mm/s) in ABS or PLA, and provides more than 20 printing modes, ranging from standard to expert.
3D dogs adapted from a puppy design by cerberus333
Zim's elegant design features a monobloc aluminum C frame. Zim fits in any home or office, and is easily portable.
Why we need you
We have been working very hard on developing Zim, and we are really happy to share it with you today.
Our production partners are ready. Now we need you. We need to collect the funds to start our first production batch. With your support, you will receive one of the very first Zim personal 3D printers at a very special Kickstarter price.
With your help, the Zim 3D personal printer will become a cornerstone in the new world of creativity and design.
Technical data & competitors comparison
A quick look at Zim's technical features
The use and maintenance of many 3D personal printers available on the market today requires extensive technical knowledge, as well as hours of assembly, before you can start to print your first 3D object. We wanted to create a 3D personal printer which was ready to use, straight out of the box. So easy and safe that kids, families and hobbyists could start creating their projects immediately. Thus, Zim was born. Following are some of the features which have made this one of a kind 3D personal printer possible:
Dual adjustable printing head
Support structures are often necessary to print 3D objects. However, one of the major issues with support structures is that they are difficult to remove cleanly once the object has been printed. In order to solve this issue, we decided early on that we wanted Zim to print with two extruders. The dual printing head allows a user to print different materials at different temperatures out of each nozzle. For example, you can print PLA out of one nozzle, and print water soluble PVA out of the second nozzle. The PLA plastic will print the 3D object, and the water soluble PVA will print the support structure. When both nozzles have finished their printing process, the resulting object can be dipped in water and the support structure will dissolve, leaving your 3D object. In the process of building Zim, one of the more challenging difficulties was to keep the two nozzles moving exactly parallel to the gantry. If one nozzle was even slightly off, then it would hit the parts already printed, resulting in damaged or failed prints. This is why each nozzle height can be easily adjusted.
Adjustable gantry plane
One essential condition to a precise print is the perfect orthogonality (i.e. straight angles) between the Z axis and the XY gantry movement plane. In order to maintain this symmetry, three of the four corners of the gantry plane of movement are automatically adjusted to ensure a perfect orthogonality. This factory adjusted feature, as with the printing head adjustment described above, enables precision printing right out of the box.
We wanted a new user to be able to print a 3D model by simply pressing one button, as well as allow a 3D expert to control every aspect of their print. To enable this level of variation, Zim is composed of a Linux based PC board with a 1Ghz ARM processor and 1GB of RAM. This PC board runs specific software such as Slicer (based on Slic3r), VLC (to carry our micro-camera video stream), and meshlab (to automatically optimize the 3D models sent to the printer). The PC board is the core of Zim and it allows for outside connectivity through a set of web services. The specification of this web service will eventually be made public, at which time we will encourage third party developers to create add-on software to increase Zim's functionality.
Zim comes with built-in Ethernet and WiFi for home and Internet networking, and its installation doesn’t require any networking knowledge. Zim can be remotely controlled using a smartphone or tablet app (Google Android/Mac iOS/Microsoft Windows Phone), or from your Mac and PC using any browser.
The incredible abilities of Zim have been made possible by prior work from the OpenSource community. It is important for us to acknowledge and bring to attention the tremendous work of the OpenSource Community at large, and, in particular those projects which have made the creation of Zim possible, among them : • Linux • Meshlab • Lighthttpd • VLC • The Reprap community at large • Slic3R • The Sprinter, grbl and Marlin firmware
We support the OpenSource community and we will continue to do so in the future.
Straight out of the box, Zim can be remotely controlled from any web browser or from the Zim App on your mobile device (Smartphone or tablet).
You can connect your Zim in 3 different ways:
- WiFi: both access point mode and home/local network supported
- Wired (Ethernet RJ45): both peer-to-peer and home/local network supported
- USB cable (WIP to support Windows 8.1 3D printer native drivers)
Once connected, thanks to Zeroconf protocols, you have immediate access to Zim through any web browser, or through the Zim App!
Once you're connected, the printing process is:
- Download a model
- Open the Zim App or your web browser
- Print it!
History of the design
At Zeepro, we wanted from the very beginning a 3D personal printer that would fit in any home or office. Therefore, we had to come up with a 3D printer that would be easy to use, good looking, affordable and safe.
As we had been using several RepRap type printers for quite some time, we started by defining a set of clear specifications for Zim prior to building its mechanics.
For our first prototype, we focused on the speed and precision of our gantry. We needed our XY gantry to be as light as possible (for speed) but stiff enough to handle a dual head with direct extrusion (for precision). So we chose to use two rods per axis, and tested it in a wooden frame using an existing printer, Z axis, and electronics.
Using the lessons learned from our first prototype, our second prototype was closer to our final dimensions. We included new features such as "automatic" belt tensioning, dual cold end, and filament feeding. We also tested our electronic base (RAMPS 1.4/marlin) and implemented our new Z axis.
With the mechanics of our 3D printer well underway, we turned to the design.
For the look of the 3D printer, we enlisted the help of Zimmerli Design, a famous Swiss father and son design firm. With over thirty years of award winning creations for household goods, electronics and sports, Zimmerli applied their expertise to the creation of Zim.
Fabian Zimmerli describes his experience in designing Zim: “A big challenge was to fit all the different requirements under one roof. On one hand, a 3D printer is a high-tech machine with high precision standards. On the other hand, it should be as easy to use as any other appliance in the home or office. So, we designed a super stable aluminum profile for the housing, which allowed us to make the printer as small as possible. And the open C shape design presents the printing process like a show on a stage."
In our third prototype, we combined the mechanics of the first two prototypes with the design elements. Adding a new hot end, a fan system, and a cartridge system inside a prototype frame 99% similar to the production one, we ended up with a prototype that was very close to the future production models.
There are still a few remaining items (Industrial PCB, cabling system, and gantry support elements mainly) to be incorporated in our design that will greatly simplify the manufacturing process. However, with our extensive design and prototype building process now complete, we feel confident in the quality, function and aesthetic of Zim.
Zim CAD design
Who are we ?
We are a very enthusiastic, friendly and cohesive team! Most of us have known each other for years and have extensive experience working together. See full bio section.
Several members of our team have years of experience bringing new products to life, be it software or hardware. Zim was designed from the ground up with industrial production in mind.
We decided early on that we would not be able to invest in our own factory. We would be "fabless". Because we aim to sell Zim worldwide, and because we have many manufacturing contacts in Asia, we decided to concentrate our search for industrial sourcing in China, mainly in the Shenzhen and Guangzhou areas of the Chinese Guangdong province, one of the main centers for electronic manufacturing.
We selected a well-known and respected multicultural industrial sourcer to represent us. Their role is to act as our purchasing agent in China. In addition to sourcing from suppliers they have already been working with for several years, they are able to find, visit and audit manufacturers of specialized parts. Each element of the printer is sourced by a unique partnership between a trusted local purchasing specialist and a multicultural foreign technical expert. This allows us to obtain the best combination of precise compliance to our specifications, as well as securing a good price-quality ratio.
The current part list is about 95% complete and comprised of approximately 100 different parts. About one-third of these parts are standard off the shelf parts for which samples are easy to obtain (end-stops, camera, belts, pulleys, bearings, ...). Another third is comprised of "adapted" parts (such as cabling, stepper motors, and pulleys) which are made to our specifications (an easy thing as long as you are able to meet the manufacturers' minimum quantities). The rest are specific parts made by different processes: extrusion, injection plastic molding, investment casting, laser cutting, turning and/or milling- all of which need to match the manufacturers' minimum quantities.
For several of these processes, we need to invest in toolings, such as molds for the injected plastic parts. These toolings will be ordered at the end of the Kickstarter campaign and should be ready by the beginning of December. For each part, we have selected the industrial process best able to fit our goal of several thousands or tens of thousands of parts per year. This explains our campaign goal of USD 300,000 as we need to manufacture batches of at least 500 units.
With the toolings come a number of sample production parts which will allow us to assemble our pre-production models, the first truly industrial Zims. This, in turn, will allow us to select our key provider, the industrial manufacturer who will assemble each batch of Zims (one batch equals one container full of printers, roughly 500 units).
This is one of the last steps in the sourcing process as the final selection needs to be done on the basis of our pre-production run. It's indeed at this time that the industrial process will be finalized in order to detail each step in the production line. We have pre-selected several such manufacturers, and the final selection will happen during the first two weeks of December.
It is important to note that Chinese New Year has a significant impact on industrial production schedules. In 2014, factories will be closed from the middle of January until the middle of February. This factors heavily in our scheduling. Most of the small parts will have been previously ordered and manufactured, but the frame and some of the largest parts will not start production until mid-February, which means that our first batch of Zims will be shipped the second week of March.
In our experience, the keys to a successful product launch (in terms of manufacturing) are based on :
- clear and precise specifications for each part (95% complete),
- pre-assembly control of all key parts based on defined control checks (checking specifications about 20% complete),
- detailed assembly plan (about 40% complete),
- presence of the design staff on the assembly floor during the first production runs to run a set of tests on the finalized printers (checking specifications about 40% complete).
We will control each and every printer of the first batches and as soon as we are confident in the output quality, we will setup quality control with our sourcer based on AQL II inspection level (1% major defects, 2% minor defects).
- Engineering completed
- Part sourcing completed
- Toolings order
- Toolings and samples received
- Pilot production run
- Compliance tests
- Electronics and small parts production
- Frame production
- First Zim batch shipping
Risks and challenges
As in all Kickstarter projects, we face several key risks and challenges which include:
We have built and tested 3 generations of prototypes. We have spent thousands of hours developing Zim. It has reached such a stage of development and testing that we feel the remaining issues should be minor. We will update our backers regularly through the Kickstarter process.
Going from prototype to production can encounter problems for many Kickstarter campaigns. Several members of our team have a strong manufacturing experience and have gone through these kind of issues many times. We have been working for the past several months with sourcing specialists to select the most appropriate components and suppliers. Our production partners are ready, and even with the risk inherent to all manufacturing activities, we are confident in our ability to deliver Zim to our backers.
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