ZCorp Shows How 3D Printers will be Used In Real Life

by Joseph Flaherty on June 18, 2011

ZCorp is the Burlington Massachusetts based 3D Printer manufacturer whose claim to fame is the ability to 3D print models in full color. Most other rapid prototyping tools in this family can only product monochrome objects which has allowed ZCorp to differentiate itself nicely. If you asked someone who was entirely unaware of the concept of 3D printing, ZCorp would likely be what they imagined. The connection to traditional 2D printing is especially strong in that some ZCorp 3D printers actually use HP inkjet printheads.

ZCorp is also novel in that they share a lot of photos on Flickr. This provides a neat insight into a company that has access to 3D printers and engineers and designers that can operate them effectively. I’m always interested in thinking about how 3D printers might get used if they ever became mainstream devices and ZCorp proves to be a nice natural experiment.

One interesting use was the creation of custom poker chips for a company casino night:


Another use was the creation of a custom medallion to celebrate the 2011 NHL champion Boston Bruins:


While those two uses are fun, there are also practical applications of 3D printing in a small corporate environment. Consider this model of the ZCorp tradeshow booth:


Even small booths can cost tens of thousands of dollars so being able to print out a mini replica for a few hundred dollars is a nice way to generate peace of mind. You could easily imagine a family using a 3D printer to test out a new furniture layout in a family room or even in the construction of a new house.

While these examples may seem trivial they also shouldn’t be underestimated. I remember TV commercials in the late 1990’s pushing cell phones with cameras by suggesting that we needed to have them to capture freak occurrences we might see. Now they are common place and innovators continuously find new uses for them.

Beyond the very cool examples above, do yourself a favor and check out ZCorp’s Flickr pool to see more amazing images like this crab,


This model of a city,


and this beautiful cathedral all made with ZCorp 3D printers.


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