“We Give Anyone a Possibility to Assemble Z-Bolt Printer Independently,” Interview with Aleksey Kvitinskiy from Z-Bolt
Manufacturer of open source 3D printers Z-Bolt will present products in the Startup zone. The co-founder of the company Aleksey Kvitinskiy told us about the peculiarities and application fields of these devices.
The team of Z-Bolt develops and builds a high-quality open source 3D printer platform. The main product of the company is a unique four-extruder 3D printer with the system for automatic change of print heads. Overall, the catalogue of Z-Bolt contains four original 3D printing machines.
Interviewer: 3D Print Expo (3DPE)
Respondent: Aleksey Kvitinskiy, co-founder of Z-Bolt (А.К.)
3DPE: How long ago was Z-Bolt founded? Tell us about the team that works on the project.
А.К.: Z-Bolt is around three years old. The idea to develop an open source 3D printer arrived in the middle of 2016. The main principles of the project were openness, design modularity, and easy upgradeability. In 2017, we produced the first printer Z-Bolt v1.0 and the updated version v1.1 at the end of the year. Around the same time, we came up with the idea to develop a 3D printer with automatic change of print heads.
The work in this direction lasted for almost two years. Now the idea has been successfully brought into life in the form of 3D printer Z-Bolt X. Initially, just two people took part in the project, and now we have a friendly team of professionals and enthusiasts that work on the common goal (including remotely). This was greatly encouraged by the rapidly developing community.
3DPE: What are the main peculiarities of your main product Z-Bolt X? How does it differ from other 3D printing machines?
А.К.: What makes Z-Bolt X unique is the system for automatic change of print heads. It allows the 3D printer to print with four different materials at a time. This can be a combination of colors and materials with different physical characteristics, including soluble support materials.
Another interesting peculiarity of Z-Bolt X is the possibility to print items with nozzles of different diameter. For example, you can print the perimeter frame with a thinner nozzle to achieve better quality, and fill it with a nozzle of bigger diameter. In such a way, you can increase print speed up to 70%.
Besides, Z-Bolt X differs from most 3D printers by the fact that it can be called a smart 3D printer. In the same way as you install apps to your smartphone, you can install add-ons to Z-Bolt X, which will add new functions. The point is that you manage the printer with Octoprint, an open source app with a huge community that actively develops Octoprint and new modules for it.
One more peculiarity of our smart printers, appreciated by corporate customers, is the possibility of clusterization, remote management using a single interface, and setup of a single print queue.
Besides, design features of devices are worth attention:
- tough case and aluminum portal of in-house development and production;
- enclosed case and the possibility to print with a wide range of materials;
- the table stands on two side consoles instead of one back console (like it is realized in most of the printers), which makes the table more rigid;
- original modular design intended to make the assembly and maintenance process more convenient, which will appeal to those who want to assemble the printer on their own.
3DPE: Tell us about the main advantages of the open source 3D printer platform.
А.К.: The inherent principle of our project is openness. We give anyone a possibility to assemble Z-Bolt independently. This gathered a big community around the project, which we consider the main advantage of an open platform. People help each other to solve issues, and such solutions are sometimes timelier and of higher quality than when provided by the ordinary technical support.
Besides, the community stores and accumulates experience of all-possible modifications and upgrades of our printers. Some people experiment with electronics: control board, drivers, and engines. Some people change the way of filament supply, kinematics, and experiment with the materials of the case. Community members designed and built a mini Z-Bolt with 110×110×140 mm print area. Thanks to the modular design of our printers, improvements are available to all members of our community in most cases.
3DPE: What is the advantage of assembly kits over readymade 3D printers?
А.К.: Originally, we did not plan to produce assembly kits, we wanted to release tested and ready-to-use high-quality printers. However, due to a large number of inquiries from the community, we had to correct our plans.
Customers usually opt for an assembly kit because they love assembling things with their own hands or want to save funds. Besides, the benefit of assembling a printer on your own is the deeper knowledge of its design and consequently, a simpler understanding of the 3D printing process.
3DPE: Which industries and projects use your devices?
А.К.: Apart from DIY consumers, our customers are educational institutions, product companies that use 3D printers for prototyping, companies that do cosplay, medical facilities.
3DPE: How many devices are in the company’s portfolio? What goals do they serve?
А.К.: Today there are four models of printers in our catalog.
Z-Bolt Original – a model with the print area of 200×200×240. The project started with this model. It is mainly oriented toward DIY.
Z-Bolt Plus – the next model in the chronological order with the increased print area of 300×200×335, developed after numerous requests from customers.
Z-Bolt Original Limited – modified version of Z-Bolt Original, the main feature of which is the modified case made of shatterproof polystyrene resin, steel, and aluminum. The version made of solely branded component parts is also available, thanks to which it is an excellent match for the intense use 24/7.
Z-Bolt X – our flagship model, which has been announced this summer, we have already mentioned it. It is a smart 3D printer equipped with the system for automatic change of print heads. It also uses solely branded component parts.
3DPE: How does the company plan to develop its products and what novelties to expect in the near future?
А.К.: Primarily, we plan to keep developing the multi-extruder X-Bolt printer to make it even simpler and more convenient in use. Besides, we plan to release a smart printer with one print head.
We also study other 3D printing technologies and plan to start the development of a new product line of 3D printers.
3DPE: What developments will you present in the Startup zone of 3D Print Expo and what kind of audience may find them interesting?
А.К.: Of course, we will show our multi-extruder printer Z-Bolt X, how it functions in practice and examples of its creations. We will also show other models: Z-Bolt Limited and Z-Bolt Original. Our printers will be interesting for both 3D printing enthusiasts and professionals. Besides, our products will be interesting for companies that consider the use of 3D printers for production and other purposes.
Do not miss the chance to see how machines of Z-Bolt work in practice! The project’s team is looking forward to meeting guests at 3D Print Expo 2019 on October 4 and 5.