Improved technology and cheaper material costs have made 3D printing more accessible than ever. Businesses of any size can now create 3D prototypes and unique marketing materials with just a press of a button. The potential impact of 3D printing in the marketing sphere has only just begun to be explored and is a great opportunity to set your business apart from the rest. This article aims to serve as a source of inspiration for your own 3D printing marketing journey.
Advantages of 3D printing in marketing
3D printing literally offers a whole new dimension to traditional print marketing. It offers the ability to design anything that you want from the ground up, and the freedom to customise your entire branding project down to the tiniest detail. 3D printing allows your marketing to have that extra level of interactivity with your audience, allowing them to become more and more familiar with you as a business.
On product design, 3D printing can also help reduce the time for prototyping new business ideas, without needing to invest a large amount of money upfront in production costs.
Disadvantages of 3D printing
3d printing shares the same draw backs of traditional print marketing – mainly how it is a physical product that has a limit to how far it can be shared geographically. However, to overcome this barrier, the same print files can we shared with any other 3D printer across the world, where they can be printed and used locally.
There is also technical barrier to becoming familiar with the multiple software options that are used to create 3D printing files. Some printers may come with their own unique software while others use third party software. For those who are less tech savvy, there is also the option of outsourcing to a 3D designer who can take your sketches and turn them into a 3D file for you to print.
For an insight into print versus digital marketing, check out our article!
3d print marketing ideas
The only limit to what you can make with 3D printing is your imagination. Below are some inspirational ideas to get your creative marketing ideas going!
Custom branded props
This category includes any object created for instore displays, exhibitions, and tradeshows. Most often this is a prototype of a product you can create and sell, or a unique brand item that potential customers can interact with as a part of your display. These can include: 3D models, sculpted display stands, custom promotional items like keychains, and whatever else you can think of to showcase your business. These items can be just for display or to sell in these situations.
Personalised customer products
Any good marketing team can tell you – the more personalised your marketing, the more likely the customer will interact with your business. Personalised customer products are the next big thing when it comes to product customisation. This can include customised phone cases, custom printed mini-figures, unique 3D printed trophies and so on. Whatever can be printed with a 3D printer can be customised to a specific customer with their name, colours, and more.
Out of the box promotions and competitions
You could also market the files for the customer to 3D print themselves. A great example is the promotional Warner bros did for, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug where they shared a file to fans to print the Key of Erebor, a prop from the actual movie itself (Lab Team 2013). This option allows you to share your marketing digitally without needing to have the customer in the same city, or even the same country as you.
Future of 3D printing in marketing
We are only starting to scratch the surface with what is possible with 3D printing in marketing. As time goes on, we will undoubtable see great innovative ideas that could only come about through 3D printing. So, keep thinking up fun and crazy ideas that can incorporate 3D printing into your marketing because you never know what creative idea will be a big hit!
Lab Team. (2013), Hobbit Campaign Encourages Users to 3D Print Props. IPG Media Lab. Sourced from: https://ipglab.com/2013/12/04/hobbit-campaign-encourages-users-to-3d-print-props/