School Zcorp machine senior project drama!

Hello all,

Now that I got your attention with my subject heading, I was wondering if anyone can assist a frustrated Senior ID student. I am so stressed out and was wondering if anyone had any experience with Zcorp 15o machines?

I was printing a Rhino model (3 parts) and it seemed to be working fine for the entire duration, which was 7 hours. When I went into the lab to see its progress, and dug it out of its powdery depths when it was finished, I was shocked and disappointed to see that after 7 hours of printing, only 1/3 of my parts were produced! I wasn’t there when it finished and was only informed by my iD classmates who share the lab (and Zcorp machine) that the computer attached to the Zcorp said that it was complete, but my part wasn’t! I triple checked my Rhino geometry to make sure all my normals were facing the same direction, every part was airtight and didn’t have open edges. I am wondering what could have gone wrong! The lab assistant who got it set up for me this morning, and who has experience with it, when he analyzed my part didn’t see any errors either in my geometry (otherwise, I think the computer would have said it couldn’t be printed).

This lab assistant only works til 5pm and he got it started to print at 10:30am, so when it finally finished, he wasn’t around to complain to and doesn’t come back until Monday. I figured I’d come on here to see if anyone else has had mishaps with rapid prototyping, especially Zcorp, and see what could have possibly gone wrong or what to check in my Rhino geometry that could be causing the problem. As I said, it did 7 hours of printing and only one of my parts was printed and only 1/3 at that. My id peers say that there was enough material (powder), so I am sure it wasn’t that and enough liquid (binder) in the machine. The guy who sets it up is very experienced. I just can’t wait til Monday to figure out what could have gone wrong.

Anyone have any tips on what I should be looking for in my geometry that I missed that could have caused my part to misprint and if there are problems related to the Zcorp that could have caused it to malfunction, if my part wasn’t flawed to begin with?

Thanks for letting me vent.


I’ve printed quite a bit with z-Corp printers during my bachelor studies and worked as a tech on the side while studying.

What you are describing has only happened to me once.
And that was when the glue dispenser was not clean and clogged up so no glue made it onto the powder. The maschine will think it printed the piece as it did all the passes.
If it would have been your models fault, it should have showed up in the preview.

That is my guess, but without being there, no way to say for sure. I guess you’ll have to speak to the tech, that’s their job.


You’re right, I will have to wait until the tech arrives on Monday and see what has happened, but your analysis sounds very plausible. I have to admit, at first i thought it was a case of “design student sabotage” and that my pieces were pulled out before their finish time, as I arrived after the alleged incident happened, but after carefully analyzing what my id classmates mentioned to me and the 7 hour processing time, I guess as you said, the machine kept processing but not putting any glue down.

I will have to wait until Monday, but I will keep you posted, Hepster.

Thanks for giving me some piece of mind over the weekend. Senior show is coming up soon and I was frazzled! If worse comes to worse, I am thinking of sending my file to a couple of rapid prototyping facilities here in town and see if I can get a student discount or something. I hope it is not too expensive.

One more question: my appliance is composed of 3 separate pieces and when I handed them to the technician, they were all put onto separate files (that parts, that is), even though initially they all were constructed in one file. So I copied and pasted them into 3 different files, turned them into meshes then stl files, etc.

I was wondering if this makes a difference: does the part have to be moved/orientated onto the “0” xyz plane so that it prints successfully? I was wondering if it makes a difference where in space the part is for a successful print. Since I didn’t have luck the first time with my part during printing and it failed, I was wondering if the orientation had anything to do with it.

Thanks, Hepster!

PS- tomorrow when the technician comes in, I will ask why mine didn’t print successfully, because over the weekend, all the others in my class have been printing theirs successfully! So I am not sure if the glue ran out or got clogged and it was cleaned by someone other than the technician. This lab is unmonitored over the weekend, so the students have free rein over the machine, and some have tried successfully. Who knows. I will keep you posted.

This lab is unmonitored over the weekend, so the students have free rein over the machine

Oh god, that doesn’t sound like a good thing… so prison rules rule!

Regardless, I would say that no, it doesn’t matter where the model is as it has to be positioned in the software anyway when the built is put together. I really think it is a hardware problem. But again, nobody here can say for sure as we are not there.
Also, I have always worked with Solidworks and never with Rhino, so I can’t say for sure.

I guess there is a lesson to be learned. Don’t print last minute so you have enough time to re-print and don’t have to freak out.

ps. it is “bepster”, not “Hepster”… I wonder where that came from?

Oooops, sorry Bepster. Maybe it’s time to get my eyes checked again. Being in one’s 40’s will do that.

And you are right about the not printing at the last minute. I was still working on my model and making sure it was airtight, etc… and I am still new to Rhino (well, 3D modeling) and some of this stuff took a while. But for my last semester (this Fall), I should be a pro at it and it won’t take me so long to hand in to the lab tech. This time, I will print 2 weeks in advance and check for errors or printing mistakes!

Oh, and good news. Yesterday, we tried again and it printed fine. The tech has no idea what could have possibly gone wrong, as he checked the log on the computer and it says that it printed completely! The computer NEVER lies. :slight_smile: and there was enough binder in the machine, so maybe just on mine, it got clogged. Because after my bad print job, the others in my class had no problems really. Go figure. The old guy gets the short end of the stick always!

Thanks BEPSTER. I guess maybe I saw “hepster” because you are one hep cat? :smiley: