Zortrax M200 3D printer undoubtedly shines among all other Polish constructions – and perhaps even among all constructions of this kind in the world. The printing quality achievable on Zortraxa places it in the absolute forefront of low-cost 3D printers. In short: prints from Zortrax are close to perfect. However, the 3D printed itself is not perfect. Below you can read about all the problems we came across when working with Zortrax M200 and also, why this 3D printer is unsurpassed nevertheless.

Depending on the moment, Zortrax M200 can be acquired right away or after several weeks of waiting, for 2213 EUR. After purchasing all we have to do is to: unpack the 3D printer, connect it to the mains, calibrate the table (there is an appropriate option in the printer’s menu), download Zortrax software, Z-Suite, and you can start printing.

Z-Suite is available in versions for Windows and MacOS, but installing software on the later operating system requires installing of a software platform Mono. We chose to use Z-Suite on Windows.

Z-Suite is a aesthetically pleasing and intuitive to use – in just a few clicks we import our model, choose the settings (material, layer height, infill, support; there are also few advances settings). After the model is sliced we export our code (“Z-code”) to a SD card.

Z-Suite is not perfect. On Zortrax, for example, we can not print a vase which is available as a solid block model, because we would either have to print it without infill or without infill and without top and bottom layers. In the first case, the vase will not have a hole at the top, in the second case, there will be the hole at the top, but there will also be a hole in the bottom. Automatic placement of multiple models does not always work as it should. A handful of models, that are easy to spread on the printing bed manually, will fail to do so by automatic placement.

Z-Suite is also known to posses the ability to import 2D file in DXF format, which allegedly can be easily extruded into 3D solids. We tried with several DXF files created with Adobe Illustrator, but even with the simplest ones (a circle or a square) we only got an error message.

Printing bed auto calibration is convenient. The printing head checks the position of the table in 5 points, giving us feedback on which knob under the table should be turned which way. This process can take a long time – those, who are impatient can use the traditional method with paper card.

Zortax’ printing bed is covered with a “special” Z-Liquid glue, which is supposed to last for the first few prints, after that we can use glue stick. For smaller prints the glue might not be needed at all, for the really big ones – even a thick layer of glue might not be enough, as its edges will probably rise due to material shrinkage anyway. Using Dimafix spray glue will be of some help here.

Along with the 3D printer comes a full package of tools. Zortrax pliers and tweezers are really handy, but there is more to it .: two knives, spatula, gloves, glasses, hex keys and a needle for cleaning the nozzle.

The only one last thing that we need is a filament. The 3D printer comes with a spool of Z-ABS and we are strongly encouraged by the manufacturer to use original Zortrax dedicated materials only: Only filaments from Z-Filaments series ensure safe and trouble-free operation of your printer. Using materials from sources other than Zortrax shop, you automatically lose your Z-Care warranty.

With such an encouragement, we must therefore install one of the 4 filaments offered by Zortrax (Z-ABS, Z-ULTRAT, Z-HIPS and Z-GLASS) and we can begin printing. Our work with 3D printer menu will be in 95% limited to the function of loading and unloading the filament and clicking on the file name that we want to print. Before each print Zortrax checks two points on the table to examine if it is level. After that we can only watch as plastic is deposited, layer after layer, and after few hours remove the perfect model from the printer. But are all Zortrax prints actually always perfect? More often than not, yes. In the vast majority of cases there are no problems with the model, we get exactly what we want, or its a matter of tearing off some easily-removable supports. From time to time, however, something goes wrong … And the longer we work on Zortrax, the more of these situations we encounter. So, what could happen?

1. The printing head drives into the bed

One of our Zortrax 3D printers virtually from the start tended to persistently drive its head into the printing bed during the autocalibration (as well as when checking the bed height before every print).

Apparently the cause of this were the contacts at the rear of the table, it was therefore replaced with a new one. The problem, however, persists, and it seems that the real reason behind this is the friction on X and Y axes which restricts the movement of the printing head. The head can not reach the spots on the printing bed where the metal is exposed and instead tries to break through the lacquered surface. Zortrax M200 requires lubricating the axes every 2 or 3 weeks, otherwise the friction destroys the prints.

2. Smokin’ hot Zortrax

Every once in a while we encounter a situation like this: we want to change the filament or start printing, the nozzle begins heating up, minutes pass: one, two, three… five… eight… the target temperature is still not reached, but instead, a lousy odour of burnt plastic can be smelled in the air and smoke begins to appear from the nozzle. We rush to switch off the printer, and upon switching it on again we are welcomed by a message suggesting checking the print head cable. The cable seems to be plugged well. All we can do is to switch the printer off again and wait for it to cool down and then start again…

3. Unjustified layer shifts

For some incidents we do not find any logical explanation, other then errors in the Z-Suite slicing scripts. On some models, there are always layer shifts present, though not always at the same height and those things cannot be been in the Z-Suite preview. We printed together two mirrored wings of a dragon, the right has been printed well, and in the left a shift occurred. In two subsequent attempts to print the wings shifts were also present, but always at different heights.

4. Sometimes the prints are just pure rubbish…

Not an often issue, but from time to time, prints are just utterly useless.

5. A button that drives us mad…

Zortrax M200 is operated by means of a single button, using it we can move through the menu options or approve our selection. However, the button responds poorly, often performes a doubleclick at our single-click, thus when entering any option, we are instantly taken back. It can also turn while clicking, and as a consequence, for example, we will print the wrong model. Sometime, after clicking, the screen goes black.

The above facts interfere with a perception of Zortrax M200 as a problem-free 3D printer. Despite those issues, though, it is still a device that you can rely on when it comes to printing quality. What is more, using Zortrax is really simple and, if all goes well, it does not require the user to have deep expertise in the field of 3D printing. Apart from the few problems described above, we think that all 3D printers should perform as smooth as Zortrax if they are not to put people off.

Adela Walczak
Rapid Prototyping specialist, graduate of Product Design Engineering and Paper Making and Polygraphy, vice champion of Poland in curling.

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