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Zortrax M200

By Spencer Zawasky / Nov 12, 2015

Zortrax M200
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Zortrax M200

This 3D printer is about printing, not fiddling. And print it does — and with distinction. While the retraction performance and bridging could use some improvement, they are good nonetheless, and the surface quality and (lack of) z-wobble are really something to see. Combined with the 90-micron minimum layer thickness and with the visual impact of the frosted, cool white “Z-ABS,” it might just cause a bit of a swoon.

It is stark and stylish, a featureless black frame with a cold blue fluorescent display echoing the cool white chamber lights, dimmed by tinted acrylic panels. It is, in a word, sleek.

SIMPLICITY, FOR BETTER OR WORSE

The firmware and software are correspondingly simple. The bright, legible display has a small handful of entries each with a smaller handful of items. It does what it needs to do and nothing more.

The software interface is graphical, and many of the settings themselves are constrained multiple-choice popup menus. Even the “advanced settings” for the slicer offer a scant seven, largely graphical, settings.

FLAWS ASIDE, IT JUST WORKS

Despite the added effort of waiting for the platform to cool (or using an oven mitt), having to unplug it from the back every time, and the procedural removal process, the platform worked. It worked consistently. It worked well consistently. Warping was simply not a factor. The print stuck to the raft. The raft stuck to the platform.

Along with the “Z-ABS” which is white and translucent and unlike any “natural” ABS, a spool of Z-ULTRAT was provided — the recipe for which can only be guessed at. In our testing it proved more opaque, a bit glossier/stickier, and ever so slightly clumpier than the Z-ABS, which made the surfaces look just a bit neater, but at the cost of a slight degradation in retraction performance.

A closer inspection of the M200 system does reveal other small flaws, including imperfect instructions, a vague progress bar, and magnet and pegs that are tricky to seat properly. The complimentary frosted white Z-ABS can burn brown.

WHAT YOU CAN’T DO

Again, this printer is about printing, not screwing around. A person who enjoys tweaking and tuning may feel trapped within these confines. From such a point of view, there seems like no end to the restrictions.

The M200 works only with the Z-Suite software. The Z-Suite software will not download without a Zortrax serial number. It will not install without a Zortrax serial number. And, strictly speaking, the required proprietary software provides profiles for only Zortrax filament.

STRANGE BUT NECESSARY PROCEDURE

The build platform is perforated through with hundreds of small, evenly spaced holes on a grid. It’s about ¼” thick, and mounted firmly (but removable) by pegs and magnets to the z-stage.

Electrical connections are by dual cable for heat and temperature sensing. While these connectors are perfectly suited for the occasional connect and disconnect, in the structured world of Zortrax you must power off, unplug, and remove the platform to remove each print. So they seem ill chosen for the expected wear, particularly the tiny temperature connector, of connecting and disconnecting every time you print.

This procedure is not so much by decree as necessity. The Z-Suite software always prints a raft and that raft always adheres to the surface. Luckily, it seems the raft always peels cleanly away from the prints. But the act of removing the raft from the platform involves a metal blade and a very special blend of finesse and violence.

Thoughtfully, a fine specimen of such an implement is provided, along with a dozen or so other helpful accessories, from work gloves to tiny nozzle-unclogging spikes.

CONCLUSION

Print after print after print, the M200 pumped out consistently excellent results. So if you really just want to print and print well and you’re willing to pay a bit more for looks, forgive a few small blemishes, and have no interest in upgrades, rebuilds, or tweaks, and are happy to buy the filament from the manufacturer, this is the printer for you.

Specs
M200 zortrax.com
Price As Tested:$2,000
Build Volume:200×200×180mm
Bed Style:Heated, PCB perf board
Filament Size:1.75mm
Open Filament?:No
Temperature Control?:No
Print Untethered?:Yes, SD card
Onboard Controls?:Yes
Host/Slicer Software:Z-Suite (vendor proprietary, Serial No. required)
OS:Mac, Windows
Firmware:Closed
Open Software?:No
Open Hardware?:No
Maximum Decibels:64.5

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Why To Buy

You pay a bit more for the M200, but in return can focus on enjoying the results rather than tuning the process.

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Pro Tips

Impatient users will want to keep an oven mitt handy — it can take a while for the platform to cool enough to remove it to liberate your prints. The firmware has no “cancel” feature, but powering off works well enough.

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