Fully Plug & Play (also dual extruders, Ethernet & WiFi, onboard camera, smartphone & tablet control, exclusive refillable cartridges) Read more
This project was successfully funded on October 23, 2013.
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.
1) Calculate the total amount as indicated in Update 19
2) Go back to the Zim Kickstarter home page and click on the button "manage my pledge"
3) Change the pledge amount with the total amount you have just calculated. Do not change your reward!
4) Validate and follow the Amazon payment process
5) Send us a message detailling your pledge
What are the shipping costs for the US and for international? How do I pay for the shipping? Updated October 8th
The pledge amounts do not include shipping or tax (if applicable).
If you live in the US or Canada, add 55 USD to your pledge for the shipping.
If you live outside the US or Canada, add 150 USD to your pledge for the shipping.
If you have already pledged, just click on the "Manage your pledge" button and add the correct amount (55 USD or 150 USD) for the shipping.
If you have backed a reseller pledge, don't add any shipping cost, we will contact you at the end of the Kickstarter.
You are present in Europe. I don’t understand why European backers have to pay 150 USD for the shipping.
The first production batch container will come here in the US, because our backers are overwhelmingly based here. We simply do not have enough backers in Europe to ship a container there and to dispatch from there.
This is why we will ship from the US to the rest of the world, at a unique price of 150 USD, which is a very low price to ship a 15kg, 40x45x50 cm package from a continent to another one.
Thank you for your understanding, and thank you Europe for backing us!
For sure! Every Zim will be shipped with a universal 110/240V 50/60 Hz power supply, and standard international plugs.
Zim is not a 3D printer designed as a single extruder to which was stuck a second extruder, without any adjustment capability. Zim has been designed from the ground up as a dual head 3D printer, where each extruder can be height adjusted and where the offset between each nozzle has been minimized.
We wanted to offer the opportunity to create multicolor objects in PLA or ABS. In addition, one of the two extruders can print in PLA, while the other extruder prints support structures made of PVA. The use of PVA provides a sturdy structure to your creation, which can be removed by submerging your finished print in water.
Yes, Zim will be upgradeable by switching its single head to a dual head. A kit, with a user guide, will be available in the future; however you will need some technical skills to install it.
This kit will be available mid 2014 and priced around 200 USD.
Zim has been designed to optimize both speed and precision. The two stepper motors moving the printing heads on the X and Y axis are fixed to the frame (instead of on the gantry). This lowers the gantry weight, minimizes vibrations, and limits inertia effects. This design allows higher speed and increased quality. The size of the nozzle (350microns) allows Zim to reach a higher precision. Zim is one of the first personal 3D printers offering a printing mode starting at 80 micron layers.
Zim can print in several materials including ABS and PLA. Zim comes equipped with a high-performance dual extruder system that can either print in 2 colors, or print an object with a support structure in PVA (PVA being soluble in the water, it can be easily removed). We are experimenting with several other materials and will keep everyone updated.
When we started designing Zim, we decided that we wanted an easy and safe way to load the filament. We also wanted a beautiful design hiding the “classic” filament spool. The only solution was to design our own specific cartridge.
In addition to automatic loading, our smart cartridges also protect the filament, particularly the PVA, from moisture, and are convenient to store.
Remote connectivity also keeps you updated on the amount of filament remaining in your cartridge, thus helping you to optimize your consumption of material. For example, Zim tells you the amount of filament actually used, and alerts you prior to launching a print if there is not enough filament to complete the project (this functionality can’t work with refillable cartridges)
We will offer filament cartridges at market price. We will also offer refillable cartridges which will allow you to purchase your own filament.
Not if you use one of our refillable cartridges. With our refillable cartridge, you can use your own filament.
Refillable cartridges will be offered for purchase on our website. The price for refillable cartridges will range from 30 USD to 50 USD.
See also update #19
Your Zim will come with 2xPLA cartridges, one White and one Black with the dual head, or one White with the single head. No change is possible unfortunately: Zim is built by batches of 500 using an industrial manufacturing process. The packages will be standard. This is why we can deliver you so many features at such an affordable price!
Yes, we will offer PLA/ABS/PVA cartridges for purchase on our web site at market price.
See also update #19
.STL, .AMF and .OBJ
With Zim, it will be possible to select different printing modes from standard to expert.
We have designed Zim like a high-end camera with several modes which allow the neophyte to print by clicking on a single button (AUTO mode), and the expert to make use of all of Zim technical capabilities (EXPERT mode).
If you choose the expert mode, you will be able to set several dozen printing parameters such as various printing speeds, layer thickness, filling of the hollow parts and many others. In the standard mode, default parameters are already set-up.
Zim printing platform is designed with a convenient magnetic system, easy to remove and install. This will allow us to offer in the future different types of platform materials -heated or not- taking advantage of technology improvements for the best first layer stickiness of various thermoplastics.
See also update #19
We plan to present a kit including a heating bed and an enclosure, sometime after the end of the Kickstarter campaign but prior to shipping so that our backers can receive it at the same time as their Zim.
This kit will be made of 3 parts:
- 1 supplemental 12V/10A external power supply,
- 1 enclosure. It will be a U shaped casing, aligned with the printed frame, made of transparent PMMA, which will enclose the whole print volume. We will post a sketch in a future update.
- 1 heating bed (its material is still undefined, could be glass or aluminum)
See also update #19
Zim is equipped with an ARM based PC board, allowing the printer to be accessed by PC, Mac, smartphone or tablet, through a Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection. You will be able to print on Zim from anywhere in the world!
The elegant C frame design ensures the stiffness of the printer structure, and optimizes its weight. This handsome aluminium masterpiece also makes Zim the first premium personal 3D printer. The C frame lowers vibrations during the printing process, increases reliability, and makes Zim easier to pick up and carry around.
We offer you Zim at a great price during the Kickstarter campaign. During the second quarter of 2014, we will start selling Zim on the retail market, and the price will be significantly higher than the current Kickstarter pledges. The current retail prices for Cubify and Makerbot provide some indication of the future retail price for Zim.
Zim project may be split in four parts:
1) Electronics (based on Ramps 1.4)
2) Firmware (based on Marlin)
3) Embedded Software (based on Slic3r and Meshlab)
The three first parts: Electronics, Firmware and Embedded Software will be made public. We have been building on the Open Source community work, we do hope on future community contributions and we believe our own contribution to the community will be significant.
Mechanics: Zim has been designed from the ground up as an industrial product and doesn't include even one single part copied from another design. We plan however to release our design to the public, but one version removed, meaning we will release version 1 as soon as version 2 is shipping, even though we don't believe it will bring much to the Open Source community. The investment in tooling will be high and wouldn't be realistic for a single individual, even a group ordering less than several thousand units (especially the frame). Making Zim's mechanics public at the time of shipping would only allow copies by another industrial but wouldn't bring much to the Open Source community.
In this regard, Zim can't be considered as fully Open Source and it is not possible for us to put the Open Source Hardware logo on it.
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Top quality T-shirt with a very special and unique Zim Kickstarter design! Price includes tax and delivery within US only. International shipping paid separately.Estimated delivery:Only ships to: United States
Pledge $599 or more
21 backers Limited (29 left of 50)
EARLY Zim Special - Get 1 SINGLE head Zim (one extruder) + 1 PLA filament cartridge.
Price does not include tax or delivery (please read section on shipping)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $699 or more
Zim Special - Get 1 SINGLE head Zim (one extruder) + 1 PLA filament cartridge. Price does not include tax or delivery (please read section on shipping)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $799 or more
200 backers All gone!
EARLY Zim Special - Get 1 DUAL head Zim (two extruders) + 2 PLA filament cartridges. Price does not include tax or delivery (please read section on shipping)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $899 or more
Zim Special - Get 1 DUAL head Zim (two extruders) + 2 PLA filament cartridges. Price does not include tax or delivery (please read section on shipping)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $1,599 or more
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RESELLER DEMO PACK OF 2 DUAL HEAD ZIM "FIRST TEST". Get two first DUAL head Zims (two extruders) for demo + 4 PLA filament cartridges. Price does not include tax or delivery (please read section on shipping).Estimated delivery:
Pledge $2,699 or more
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RESELLER DEMO PACK OF 2 DUAL HEAD ZIM. Get two first DUAL head Zims (two extruders) for demo + 20 PLA filament cartridges + 4 PVA filament cartridges + POS advertising + 4 online training sessions of 1 hour each (Skype or similar) + 3 months hot-line support. Price does not include tax or delivery. Shipping will be charged at cost.Estimated delivery:
- (40 days)