December 11, 2013
By now you’ve probably heard of 3D printing–the process of making objects from a digital model by using a digital printer. The digital printers now available for home use are about the size of a large coffee maker. There are many types of 3D printers, but the common process to produce a 3D object is what they call an additive process where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes that result in an object. Think of a stack of copy paper. Each sheet of paper takes the form of an object. An object is built from the bottom up, layer by layer. The thinner the layer, the finer and smoother your 3D-object will be reproduced.
There has been much speculation about how 3D printing may become a mass-market item in the future. Manufacturers can offset their manufacturing and capital costs. Consumers will make the products. Stores, warehouses, and shipping are taken out of the equation. This would be a seismic change in how we conduct commerce.
Currently on the market right now, are several variations of additive type printers that are for consumer/home use. Formlabs makes the Form 1 3D printer. It’s what they are calling an end-to-end package that works right out of the box. The demo video on their homepage makes it look as easy to hook up as a paper printer:http://vimeo.com/65413433. In the demo video, we see the casing for a watch being made. The Form 1 will be available in February for about $3,299.
For less money, a company called MakerBot introduced the Digitizer Desktop 3-D Scanner priced at $1,400. It’s about the size of a microwave and lets you create a 3D up to 8 x 8 inches. Get more information here: http://store.makerbot.com/digitizer.html.
Now it’s up to us, as brand strategist, on how to utilize this technology to help our client’s brands. This is totally unchartered waters… or is it?
Here’s what I think should be taken in to consideration for marketers: It is totally customizable and one-to-one. People will be able to create a one-of-a-kind object. It will be attractive to small business types, prototype makers for inventors, artists and craft makers. It will be used to send objects to remote places and the social-economic impact could be significant in the near future. We can help our clients create strategies for customer relations, promotions, and even business operations by incorporating this new technology.
The promotional applications for marketers are still in their infancy. There is still an opportunity to make an impact with the first great 3D imaging promotion.
Here are some notable promotions executed so far:
The time to brainstorm is now. Just about any promotion we can think of will be original.
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