ZMorph’s Hybrid 3D Printer Is an All-in-One Manufacturing Tool
Roopinder Tara posted on March 18, 2016 | | 10733 views

3D printing has never been the end-all-be-all solution for prototyping and short-run manufacturing. The technology offers significant advantages when it comes to fabricating complex designs with minimal material, but there are just some jobs that require the sharpened edge of a CNC bit or the heated spot of a laser engraver.

The ZMorph 2.0S Hybrid 3D printer.(Image courtesy of ZMorph.)
The ZMorph 2.0S Hybrid 3D printer. (Image courtesy of ZMorph.)

To bring greater flexibility to the desktop workshop, Polish manufacturer ZMorph developed their hybrid 3D printer with 10 different toolheads, a 3D scanner module and plenty more to come. Most recently, the company has upgraded a number of these add-ons to give their ZMorph 2.0 S even more potential, packaging an improved CNC milling module with the hybrid device to give users a powerful tool for desktop fabrication.

The ZMorph CNC Pro module, for milling and engraving a wide variety of materials.(Image courtesy of ZMorph.)
The ZMorph CNC Pro module, for milling and engraving a wide variety of materials.(Image courtesy of ZMorph.)

ZMorph’s original CNC feature relied on a light Dremel routing tool, only strong enough to perform engraving into some fairly weak substances, like balsa wood and foam. The new CNC PRO module increases the power of the machine’s milling capabilities with a 300W spindle motor, allowing it to cut through or engrave into such materials as carbon fiber, polycarbonate, Plexiglas and more. Purchased as a part of the ZMorph 2.0S CNC Set for 6,500.00 Polish Zloty (roughly USD$1,700), customers receive, in addition to the machine and toolhead itself, a package of four milling bits, three plywood beds, a heated glass table and several milling materials with which to get started: two wooden boards, a wooden block, two plywood boards, two Plexiglas boards and two PCB boards.

Outside of the CNC head, ZMorph has also been expanding the capabilities of its other modules.For instance, the experimental paste extrusion head was previously able to heat, mix and print a narrow range of food materials, namely cake batter and chocolate, into fun 3D shapes. A new “Thick Paste Extruder” adds a broader spectrum of more functional substances, including silicone, porcelain and ceramics. And while the company has been selling single- and dual-extruder 3D printing heads for some time, it recently unveiled a new “Dual Pro Plastic Extruder” that can 3D print two types of materials separately as well as two materials blended together, allowing for color gradients and multimaterial prints. Laser engraving and 3D scanning are additional features that the ZMorph 2.0S can pull off and the Polish firm has developed an experimental five-axis toolhead for milling or 3D scanning objects from almost any angle.

The “Thick Paste Extruder,” for 3D printing in viscous materials, such as chocolate, cake batter, silicone, porcelain and ceramic. (Image courtesy of ZMorph.)
The “Thick Paste Extruder,” for 3D printing in viscous materials, such as chocolate, cake batter, silicone, porcelain and ceramic. (Image courtesy of ZMorph.)

The company suggests that switching between most of these modules is relatively easy and that their Voxelizer software is capable of generating toolpaths for every one of them. Of course, the user-friendliness of such a complex system must depend on the user, but if you’re the type to 3D print, mill, laser engrave and bake a cake all on the same machine, then ZMorph likely had you in mind.

ZMorph is not the only company to offer a desktop machine capable of switching between 3D printing and milling (with the FABtotum out of Italy being the closest completion), but a round of $1 million funding from Warsaw Equity Group may set it apart from the pack.