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Z Corporation (commonly abbreviated Z Corp.) was acquired by 3D Systems on January 3, 2012.
In 1993, a new 3D printing technology, ZPrinting, was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As in many other rapid prototyping processes, the part to be printed is built up from many thin cross sections of the 3D model. In ZPrinters, an inkjet-like printing head moves across a bed of powder, selectively depositing a liquid binding material in the shape of the section. A fresh layer of powder is spread across the top of the model, and the process is repeated. When the model is complete, unbound powder is automatically removed. Parts can be built on a ZPrinter at a rate of approximately 1 vertical inch per hour.
Zprinters can print parts in full color, using inkjet technology that has been refined for decades in the 2 dimensional printing industry. The color science has been adapted for use in 3 dimensions. The color spectrum of their most capable machines is full cmyk, or up to 6 million colors. Due to this wide range of color choices, the machines are able to print gradient color patterns. This is how the machines differ from any other "color" 3d printing system. Color can be used to simulate the appearance of other materials (as in architectural models or product prototypes ), to highlight surface structures or add annotations to models (as in models used to plan surgeries ), or to display the results of structural analyses (such as finite element analysis) directly on the model surface.
Zprinters originally gained recognition through applications in medical and architectural industry. More recently, they have been popular for creating 3d printed models of people from color 3d-scans, avatars from video games (Space Engineers, World of Warcraft, Assassin's Creed), artistic and realistic sculptures.
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