REVIEW: ZMorph VX, a strong 3D printer with multi tool capabilities

3D printing, CNC carving and laser engraving – the ZMorph VX makes some bold claims about its capabilities. This multiple function desktop system was launched by its Polish namesake manufacturer, ZMorph, at TCT 2017. Now 3D Printing Industry engineers have been given the chance to put it to the test.

According to its core claims, the ZMorph VX is of robust construction and designed for prolonged use. Its multiple toolheads, including a paste extruder and dual extruder, should be easily transferable, and the free ZMorph Academy course should enable users to learn how to operate each one effectively. Though a multitool machine, with CNC PRO and Laser PRO toolheads, the VX promises uncompromising FFF 3D printing quality. Each of these claims have been taken into account throughout testing the machine, and serve as the basis for our review.

ZMorph VX multitool 3D printer unboxed with spool holder attached.
ZMorph VX multitool 3D printer unboxed with spool holder attached.

The ZMorph VX out of the box

After the five minutes taken to unpack the ZMorph VX, and a further three to attach the spool holder, the machine can be considered as “ready to go.” A concise, quick setup guide is provided in the box detailing each of its five modes of operation, and the customer is also referred to the ZMorph Knowledge Base and ZMorph Academy for extra help and how-tos.

The spool holder has an efficient design and is capable of holding up to four rolls of filament at the same time, only two of these spools, it should be noted, can be extruded simultaneously when the appropriate toolhead is attached.

Each of the toolheads is mounted by a single screw. When exchanging toolheads, this simple construction enables each head to be changed within one minute, as stated by the company in its advertising. It is also easy to switch between functions via the in-built touchscreen panel, which is powered by ZMorph Voxelizer software.

Calibration can be completed both automatically and manually on the VX. In tests we found that auto calibration was more than suitable for every task.

Straight into 3D printing

The first test our engineers performed was, of course, an assessment of the ZMorph VX’s 3D print quality. For this purpose, first with a single extruder, we tried five different models:

– A ZMorph pyramid sample print (PLA silver)
– A 3D Benchy in two different sizes (PLA silver and white)Complex flower vase (PLA silver)
Large detailed house model (PLA silver)
– 3D Torture test (PLA white)

Put briefly, across all test prints, the ZMorph VX worked very well. The sample triangle was 3D printed with fine features, despite the fact that it is a challenging printout for some 3D printers due to its extensive details.

Pyramid 3D print test on the VX.

Similarly, both 3D Benchy’s were 3D printed without fault. Though of varying sizes, and using a different filament to the ZMorph triangle, the test Benchys were produced at a high quality without any stringing across difficult areas like the windows.

In the vase, a slightly more complex model, the walls were of a good quality, but some stringing could be noticed on the inside. It should be noted however, that the stringing was nothing unusual, and was most likely due to the small size of the object. A test of stamina, the large house model, which took 20 hours to complete, also printed well.

And, in the final torture test, the ZMorph VX proved that it can handle overhangs, bridges, hinges and floating strings with ease.

3D printed architectural model printed on the ZMorph VX. Photo via ZMorph
3D printed architectural model printed on the ZMorph VX. Photo via ZMorph

Dual extrusion on the ZMorph VX

A similar design to the single extruder, the dual extruder on the ZMorph X has two feeders and two inlets, which lead to a single nozzle. The feeders on this nozzle are open, a welcome feature of the head as it is handy for spotting any clogging. The heating element with the nozzle assembly is modular too, which also helps to just heat up the needed area during a clog.

In a test of dual extrusion capabilities, the team used ZMorph’s Voxelizer to add a basic text 3D Printing Industry (3DPI) logo to the side of a miniature rocket part.

The combination process in Voxelizer was quick and straightforward. Preprogrammed blending options for the two filaments where also clear and easy to understand, i.e. separate, 5050, gradient and texture.

ZMorph VX dual extrusion test.
ZMorph VX dual extrusion test.

Both sample parts 3D printed using the dual extruder were of a decent quality though the surface finish was not of the same quality when compared to single extrusion 3D prints. Adding text/images to the face of dual 3D printed objects is in fact better served by larger objects, allowing the pictures and characters to become more defined.

Example of color blending on the ZMorph VX. Photo via ZMorph
Example of color blending on the ZMorph VX. Photo via ZMorph

Laser engraving, CNC carving, paste extrusion

Now, onto the extra features of the Zmorph VX multiool 3D printer. For laser engraving CNC carving and paste extrusion, first the print bed had to be replaced with the CNC worktable.

Due to the simple, magnetic design of both platforms, the exchange was easy to do. With this construction, planar aligning was also very easy, and  calibration process was acceptable.

For the engraving test, we effectively reproduced the ZMorph logo from the sample files provided by the company. In a further test, the team also succeeded in converting a .jpeg image into our own engraving .gcode using a tutorial from ZMorph Academy.

Overall we were impressed by the quality of the engraving, especially considering features were very close together in the tests.

Laser engraving test on the ZMoph VX. Photo via ZMorph
Laser engraving test on the ZMoph VX. Photo via ZMorph
Further example of laser engraving on the ZMorph VX. Photo via ZMorph
Further example of laser engraving on the ZMorph VX. Photo via ZMorph

For CNC carving, five types of cutter tip were provided, each easily mountable within the toolhead.

For carving, we used a 6mm thick piece of plywood provided by the company, and tested the sample “Rocket Holder” file downloaded from ZMorph Academy. At 75% and 125% speed, were were decently impressed by the results.

CNC carving test. of rocket holder parts.
CNC carving test. of rocket holder parts.
Sample nylon cog carved on the VX. Photo via ZMorph
Sample nylon cog carved on the VX. Photo via ZMorph

And finally, attaching the partially 3D printed paste extruder, we achieved the successful guided extrusion of a thick chocolate icing. A handy addition for consistently decorating cakes, or experimentation with gels.

A multilayered “M” initial was achieved at layer height 3 mm, path width 3 mm, travel speed 120 mm/s and print speed 5 mm/s.

M initial paste extrusion on the VX.
M initial paste extrusion on the VX.

The all in one tool for workshops, schools and FabLabs

Based on our internal testing, the ZMorph VX is indeed a brilliant multitool 3D printer, which performed very well across all functions, especially for 3D printing. All prints demonstrated good layer adhesion, and the ability to pick out fine detail in chosen objects. Generally, the process also made it easy to remove supports, and the ZMorph VX produced a near perfect Torture Test proving its ability to overcome the breadth of 3D printer challenges, i.e. overhangs bridges, hinges and floating strings.

With the ability to reference ZMorph Academy for free, we were able to conduct our tests with ease, and found instructions incredibly clear and to the point. Simple tool mounting, the integrated touch screen, and Zmorph’s Voxelizer all contributed to an enjoyable, and intuitive user experience. It has a very sturdy frame, and could conceivably be used time and again over a long period of time. In addition, the machine’s multitool features, CNC carving, laser engraving and paste extrusion, all performed well, indicating the ZMorph VX’s capability as an all in one workshop tool.

The ZMorph VX would be a welcome addition to a classroom, FabLab, or the workbench of an in house engineering/design department. Buy the ZMorph VX here.

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Featured image shows the ZMorph VX multitool 3D printer. Photo via ZMorph.