helpUsing a Z-Corp Spectrum Z-510® Solid Object Printer with Z-Print and Z-Edit Software
Located in AT 136, Ball State University

This page was updated on 3/30/2015 and is located at:


By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

1. Safely use the Z-Corp Z-510 rapid prototyper and software to create product prototypes.

2. Determine the estimated and actual materials cost for a model built with the Z-510 prototyper.



"The world is in a knot"The purpose of this lesson is to guide you through the use of the ZCorp Spectrum Z-510 Color Solid Object Printer (Rapid Prototyper.) It is meant to accompany an actual demonstration on this device. Do not attempt to use the device without this demonstration.

Caution: Do Not Steal Another's Intellectual Property.

The rapid prototypers in this lab may not be used to "steal" the intellectual properties of others. Please only build objects that are not the intellectual property of others, unless you have the owner's written permission.

A. Safety

A1.Eye protection is required at all times by you and anyone near you as you are working on this, including when you are removing the model, depowdering it, and infiltrating it.

A2. If you wish, you may wear protective gloves or a dust mask to minimize your contact with the powder and binder chemicals.

A3. When you work with the powder, please do so in a way that does not raise much dust.

A4. When you are done working with powder, be sure to blow your nose and wash your hands.

A5. Hot wax can be used to coat models, but it can cause burns if you are not careful.

A6. Cyanoacrylate can be dangerous; avoid skin contact or breathing fumes.

A7. None of the models produces on this device will ever be "food-safe," and therefore they must not be used for eating or drinking vessels or implements, nor should they be given to young children who might put them, or pieces of them, into their mouths.

B. Get the File Ready

Use Assignments, References, & Resources

B1. Please refer to references as needed. These might include reference manuals for using the ZCorp Spectrum Z510 color solid object printer, ZPrint software, ZEdit software, solid object modeling software, and class assignments.

Create and Check an Object File

B2. Please use a computer that is not connected to the Z510 rapid prototyper to create a 3D object file. You may use solid object creation software such as Rhinoceros (pictured below), 3DS Max, AutoCAD, Lightwave, Maya, Google Sketchup, and Unigraphics, to name a few. A digitizer can also be used to capture the surface geometry of an object in hand. However, be sure your models do not violate copyright and trademark rights. In addition, try to create files that identify actual (closed) solids.

B3. If there are surfaces evident that do not seem to be part of the solid, you may need to edit the object.

B4. You will need to export the file in an a format that can be read by the ZPrint software that communicates with the Z510. Rhinoceros has a built-in feature directly sending an object from Rhino to ZPrint; click File, Print 3D in Rhino. But since you are likely working on some computer other than the one that controls the Z510, export your file in one of the following formats (realizing that coloring may not be preserved:

ZPrint Import File Types: .stl .ply .zcp .zpr .sfx .wrl .3ds

(For stl files, use "binary" rather than "ASCII.")

Load the File

B5. Transfer the digital object file you created elsewhere to the hard drive of the computer controlling the Z510. There should be a directory for your class under C:\Classes\. Please make sure the filename is rather short and begins with your last name, and that it does not contain any non-alphanumeric characters except an underscore, hyphen, or period.

B6. Open ZPrint. Load your file. Make sure the correct powder is selected. The powder in the Z510 is zp151. The units should be the correct ones for this site, given its size. You can scale the object later.

Color the Part in ZEdit

B7. You can add color, colored text or graphic image maps to your digital object prior to prototyping it. To do this, begin with your object selected in ZPrint (you'll see a box around it indicating it is selected.) Start ZEdit by clicking Edit, Start ZEdit.


The computer controlling the Spectrum Z-510 has a licensed copy of Z-Edit Pro, which has many more features than the standard Z-Edit program. If no one is waiting to use that computer, then use Z-Edit Pro with it. Otherwise, just use Z-Edit.

B8. Use ZEdit to map a graphic image onto your file, to add text, or to change the color of a feature.

When using ZEdit, it might help to select the appropriate view. You can also change the zoom level. Click on the foreground or background color to change it. Under the "Edit and Annotate" title you'll find icons to Select, Paint, Apply Text, and Apply a Texture Map (i.e., map a graphic onto the object.) In the image below, the front view was first selected, and a yellow-brick map was applied with the map completely covering the size of the object.

B9. Return to ZPrint. You can either save the edited part first in ZEdit, or click File, Exit, and you will be prompted if you want to update the part in ZPrint.

Scale and Orient the Object

B10. Back in ZPrint, If you see odd coloring on the object, do not be alarmed. You should scale, rotate, and move the object, as needed. Find these under the Transform menu item. Begin by Scaling your object to the appropriate size.

B11. Rotating can sometimes decrease build time, since it is the height of the overall build that determines the number of build layers.

B12. To move your object, you can "Translate" it. However, if this is the only object to be built, it is recommended that you use the "Justify" command and place your object at the Left, Back, Bottom of the build area.

B13. Click File, Save As and save the zpd file you are about to use. Please begin the filename with your last name, and place it into the appropriate directory on the computer that controls the Z510.

Estimate the Build Time and Materials Cost

B14. The actual amount of materials used in a build is only accurately determined after the build, by looking for the appropriate file under "C:/ZCorp Printer Records/Detailed Reports/ on the computer that controls the machine. However, you can and should estimated the amount of time, binder, and powder to be used prior to executing a job, and then after the job, locate that file to determine the actual amounts used. To estimate the amount of time and binder used, click File, Print Time Estimator. Note also the amount of colored and clear binder estimated for this job. Finally, make a note of the volume of the build. This is the powder volume.

B15. Cost out the use of binder and powder using the following factors; the costs listed for binder and powder are the ones charged by ZCorp (note that there are about 16.387 cubic centimeters per cubic inch):

  • Multiply the volume in cubic inches by $ 1.59 (because we purchase it for $1,110 per 700 cu in)
    • or the vol in cubic cm by $.10 (because we purchase it for $1,110 per 11,500 cc)
  • Multiply the ml of clear binder by $ 0.20 (because we purchase it for $772 per 3.8L)
  • Multiply the ml of colored binder by $ 0.33 (because we purchase it for $624 per 1.9L)
  • Multiply the ounces of cyanoacrylate by $5.00 (because we purchase it for $80 per pint)
  • Add the products.

By adding these four numbers, you can determine the raw cost of the powder, binders, and infiltrant, combined. These are the actual costs of these materials. However, due to the loss of materials, the costs of wash fluid, print heads, and other materials, the estimated product materials cost is greater.

The part called BallB, above, would use 99.8 ml of colored binder, 89 ml of clear binder, and 231.43 cubic centimeters of powder. Assuming that an ounce of cyanoacrylate is also used, the cost comes to $78.88, not counting wash fluid, print heads, etc.


When you reduce the volume of an object to be built, the percent reduction is typically linear. That means that if you reduce the volume to 25% or 1/4, then you are reducing it in each of the three dimensions. A 4" cube would be reduced to a 1" cube. In a 4" cube, there are 4x4x4 cubic inches, or 64 cubic inches. Thus, you would be reducing the volume to 1/64th of the original, which is 1 / (43) or 25%3. Even a small reduction in linear volume can seem like a sizable reduction in volume.

However, it is possible to reduce build volume too much, to the point where features are not distinct or where the objects lacks sufficient structural integrity. In these instances the build would be considered a failure, and all materials would be a loss. So decide wisely.

Too often, objects are designed as solid when they might have as easily been designed hollow. If you hollow out the interior of an object, be sure to include a hole through which the loose powder can be emptied.

C. Prepare the Spectrum Z-510

Cleaning the Service Station

C1. Make sure the Z510 is set to Online.

C2. In ZPrint, select Service, Unpark.

C3. Slowly open the cover of the Z510 so as to avoid jostling the binder too much.

C4. Move the print heads forward and left to expose the docking station.

C5. Use distilled water and a towel to clean the stainless steel "spit plate" and dry it.

C6. Use distilled water and a towel and the rubber parking caps and then dry them.

C7. Use the specialized needle to make sure all six spray holes under the rubber wiper are clear.

C8. On the computer, click that it is "okay to repark the heads."

Preparing the Powder

C9. With the Z510 offline, lower the feed chamber and place the fine sifter into it.

C10. Using the fine sifter and trowel, place powder from the build chamber into the feed chamber. Discard any lumps or colored bits. There should be about one-quarter to one-half inch of powder remaining in the build chamber.

C11. Remove the overflow bin and gently place the powder through the fine sifter into the feed chamber. Place the cover back on the overflow bin and put it back into its slot.

C12. Scoop up the loose, clean powder from around the chambers into the sifter and down into the feed chamber. If you noticed any contaminates in either chamber, remove them. Dust the sifter off and put it away.

C13. Remove the tamper from the door of the Z510. Press it down onto the powder in the feed chamber. Move it around a little, and press down again, rather hard, to compact the powder. Dump off the powder from the tamper into the feed chamber and put the tamper away.

C14. If you are concerned there might not be enough powder for your build, measure the powder in the feed chamber now with the dipstick.

C15. Raise the feed and build chambers, as needed, and use the screed to level off the powder on both chambers. Remove the excess powder from the screed and put it away.

C16. Close the Z510 lid. Press the Spread button on the Z510. The moves the heads and spreader to the left. Press it again, and the chamber heights adjust before the spreader moves to the right. If no powder was spread, it is because the chambers were too low. Try again: press Spread to move the spreader to the left. Now raise both chambers until the powder in each looks like it is nearly at the top of the chamber, and press Spread. Repeat this until the powder in each chamber is smooth and flat on top.

C17. Check the levels of the waste fluid jug and wash fluid jug through the slots in the front lower door. If you can't see, open the front door (not the lid). Check to make sure there is sufficient clear wash fluid in the wash fluid container. Make sure there is sufficient room in the waste fluid container. Close the front door.

C18. Place the Z510 back online.

D. Start the Build

D1. In ZPrint, select File, 3D Print. The software asks you if you have completed some of the steps, above, so indicate that you have. You should then see a screen that gives you the status for the build. If the temperature is too low, you might have to wait for the build to start.

D2. On the machine log sheet, please note the information related to this build. Indicate when you plan to return to remove your part. Please realize that the person who starts the build should be the same one who removes the part, and that if your part is sitting in the machine when someone else needs to use it, you are being a machine hog. There is also a danger of your part getting broken if it is removed by someone who does not know what to expect when removing a part.

D3. Observe the first few layers. If there is an error, you should abort the job. However, it is essential that any contaminated powder is placed into the trash, rather than into the feed chamber.

E. Allow the Part to Dry for 1 Hour Prior to Removal.

When the build has finished, please realize that it is recommended the part dries (and strengthens) for an additional 60 minutes prior to removal.

E1. As if it were a delicate dinosaur bone, excavate your part from the build chamber. Place the powder into the sifter in the feed chamber, and use dry paintbrush to brush away the powder from near your object, but do not actually let the brush touch the object. Carefully lift your object from the build chamber and dump out as much powder as you can without damaging your part. Place it on a clean, dry cafeteria tray.

F. Clean up

At the end of every job, the following should be done:

F1. Use the sifter and carefully place the powder from the overflow bin into the feed chamber.

F2. Use the sifter and place all but 1/4" of powder from the build chamber back into the feed chamber.

F3. Use brushes and spatulas to place any powder inside the machine around the chambers back into the feed chamber.

F4.Tamp the powder in the feed chamber.

F5. Screed both the build chamber and the feed chamber, but do not execute a spread. We will all know that the feed chamber is empty and has 1/4" of powder if we see the top has been screeded but not spread. However, if we see a smooth surface that has been spread, we do not know if there is a model in the build chamber or how much powder is there.

F6. Use the special vacuum under the depowdering unit to clean up any additional powder that is not in the chambers. Please note that this vacuum is to be used only for clean powder. If the vacuum suction seems low, report this to a lab supervisor.

F7. Make sure your entry on the machine log is accurate and complete

G. Determine and Cost Out the Actual Material Usage

G1. After the build job has finished, download the appropriate txt file from the control computer's directory:  C:\ZCorp Printer Records\Detailed Reports\. In the example below, you will notice that I've highlighted in red where to find the amount of powder (3.47 cubic inches), the amount of clear binder (47.2559 ml), and the amounts of yellow (25.6021 ml), magenta (25.5181 ml), and cyan (25.4586 ml) binders actually consumed.

Version: Version 7.10.3 - 7
Path: C:\ZPrint Samples\Nefertiti.zpr
Model: Nefertiti.zpr 3.52 5.00 2.45 66.37 3.47

Estimation: 2 hours 23 mins

Started: 10/15/10 01:39 PM
Firmware Version: 3.210
Bleed Compensation OFF
Start layer: 0
End layer: 612
Total number of layers: 613
Printer: : Spectrum 510
Base Powder: ZP140
Powder Type: ZP140
Shell Saturation: 100% Binder/Volume: 0.234
Core Saturation: 100% Binder/Volume: 0.117
Waste Available start: 0 mL
Last printed layer: 613
Binder usage for this job: 120.3 mL
Clear Binder usage: 47.2595 mL 4.7 % ( 2487340544 drops )
Yellow Binder usage: 25.6021 mL 2.6 % ( 1347481088 drops )
Magenta Binder usage: 25.5181 mL 2.6 % ( 1343057408 drops )
Cyan Binder usage: 25.4586 mL 2.5 % ( 1339928064 drops )
Waste Available end: 0 mL

Finished: 10/15/10 03:53 PM
Duration: 2 hours 13 mins

G2. Just as you did for the estimate, cost out the actual use of binder and powder using the following factors (actual replacement cost values, updated 4/25/2014):

  • Multiply the volume in cubic inches by $ 1.59
    • or the vol in cubic cm by $.10
  • Multiply the ml of clear binder by $ 0.20
  • Multiply the ml of colored binder by $ 0.33
  • Multiply the ounces of cyanoacrylate by $5.00
  • Add the products

This is illustrated for the example in the table below. Note that there are two figures. In a report, the entire table shown below would be reported. Please see the instructor or lab supervisor to determine the actual charge to you, if any.

  Unit Used Unit Cost Cost
Powder cu in 3.47 $1.59 $5.52
Clear ml 47.2959 $0.20 $9.46
Yellow ml 25.6021 $0.33 $8.45
Magenta ml 25.5181 $0.33 $8.42
Cyan ml 25.4586 $0.33 $8.40
Infiltrant oz 1 $5.00 $5.00
Estimated Materials Cost   $45.25

Dr. Xu using the dust removal unitH. De-powder the Part

H1. Make sure the vacuum is connected to the back of the de-powdering unit.

H2. Remove everything from the top chamber of the de-powdering unit and place your part on the tray into it. Close the door.


Consider removing your watch so it does not get powder in it.

H3. Attach the air brush to its hose.

H4. Inside the lower door, turn on the air compressor and the vacuum.


H5. Place your hands through the holes, and very gently blow the powder out of your part. Do not break your part; the air pressure can sometimes be strong enough to do this.

H6. When you are done, blow the remaining of the powder down the vacuum hole in the back left of the unit using the air brush.

H7. Turn off the vacuum and compressor. Replace the air brush into its container, and place it back into the de-powdering unit.

I. Infiltrate the Part

I1. After de-powdering, the part may still have moisture in it. It is better if some of this is allowed to dry prior to infiltration. Infiltration is a finishing operation where a liquid is absorbed in the surface of the part to increase its strength, hardness, durability, and color contrast. You can air dry the part, or dry it at 102 C in the laboratory oven until it stops losing mass. It is also possible to infiltrate the part without this extra drying, though that is not recommended.


Always wear safety glasses when infiltrating parts. Take precautions to avoid burns with hot wax. Do not allow cyanoacrylate to contact skin.

I2. Infiltrate the part and let it dry. Do not allow it to become adhered to a workbench, work-surface, paper, or anything else, as you will likely break your part removing it.


Water: Uncolored (white) objects may be infiltrated with a fine mist water spray, with a second or third application after about 10 minutes that get areas missed by the first application. Parts can also be dipped in water. The surface will be rather rough, and if you tried this with a colored part, the color would run. But this is a fast technique, and has the lowest cost.

Epsom Salts Solution: A solution of Magnesium Sulfate can be used to infiltrate parts that are colored. Application is with a fine spray, as mentioned above, for water. There is a little running of color, but not much, and parts are a bit harder than prior to infiltration. They tend to be somewhat rough.

Wax: Dipping in melted paraffin is another method of infiltrating parts. This brings out the color without running, and makes a smooth surface. Part strength is moderate. Before heating the wax, be sure to drill relief holes.


Cyanoacrylate: Also known as "super glue," cyanoacrylate is a dangerous adhesive that imparts relative high strength to colored or white parts. Application is difficult, however, and can include dribbling or dipping. Some formulations of cyanoacrylate are quite volatile, and the fumes emitted can irritate the eyes and breathing passages. This is also a very expensive infiltrant, with 16 fluid ounces costing $187.00. To apply cyanoacrylate, wear gloves and safety glasses. You can either carefully dribble drops onto the object over the specially prepared platform for doing this, or immerse the object into a bath of cyanoacrylate. Please be very careful when pouring the infiltrant, dipping objects into it, and pouring it back through a funnel into its containers.

Other Materials: Other materials can be used as infiltrants. Epoxy is used in industry, though being an "A B System," whatever is mixed sets very soon and cannot be used later. Others have tried Minwax Wood Hardener, paint, and a variety of finishes and adhesives. 

Appendix: Instructions and Notes for Laboratory Staff

S1. This machine is for use only by students in Department of Technology classes who were assigned by their DOT instructors to use the lasers, and by DOT faculty. If anyone else requests to use them, have them contact the lab administrator.

S2. Make sure the model is appropriate for this machine. If the features are too fine for the model to be handled without breaking, do not allow the user to build the model.

S3. At the beginning of every build, make sure the user cleans the spit plate, gently clears the six holes for washing the heads and cleans the surrounding rubber gasket, and cleans and the rubber parking station. Water is used for these, but it is very important that they are left very dry, since this powder would cling to any moisture on these surfaces and turn to a solid mass.

S4. For best results, I recommend taking a small piece of paper toweling and using alcohol to gently rub the four printheads, making sure that the three colored binders flowed a bit in the process.

S5. Make sure the user does not exceed the maximum size (cost) of a build.

S6. Have the user fill out the machine log. Here, it is very important that the user identifies precisely when they will return to remove their object, as it will be in the way of others who want to use the machine.

S7. Insist that after every build, the user empties the powder from both the overflow bin and the build chamber into the feed chamber using the sifter.

S8. Insist that when they are done, a user leaves the machine with 1/4" of powder in the feed chamber, and with both chambers screeded off using the straightedge. Do not have them "spread" the bed because this will make it look as if there is a build in the bed.

S9. During times of heavy use, clean machine well once each week. At the end of this, empty the powder from the vacuum under the depowdering station back into the feed chamber through the sifter.

S10. Record all errors and problems in the Staff sheet in the 3-ring binder.

"Using a Z-Corp Spectrum Z-510 Solid Object Printer with Z-Print and Z-Edit Software"
All information is subject to change without notification.

© Jim Flowers
Department of Technology, Ball State University