3D printing and marketing evolution

atelier-printThe first working 3D printer was invented in 1986, yet the technology has only just begun to capture widespread imagination. Since the beginning of the 21st century, 3D printing has become much more prevalent, with sales growing and prices dropping. Technology brings a New Dimension to Clients’ Promotional Activities with the advent and adoption of 3D printers. Clients are incorporating 3D printing into their branding efforts in various ways, some fun and gimmicky and some quite useful.

There seem to be almost no limits to the creativity of the consumer sector where the marketing message can be felt, held, used as it becomes tangible. When applied to marketing, 3D printing opens up many dimensions of tangible communication and real-life interaction. You can also find clips of 3D printers producing everything from hamburgers (not yet edible) to dresses and cars. It is used by surgeons to build up a view of a patient’s organs that they will later operate on, and designers can move from flat-screen design to build in just a few hours. Extraordinary stuff.

It’s clear that 3D printing can spell big opportunity for brands. Here’s a look at some companies that realize this potential of the technology.


Let’s talk about my favourite first that adopts any technology one can think of. Disney had introduced its “D-Tech Me” experience in 2012 that created custom figurines with fan faces and recreated the famous carbon freezing scene from “The Empire Strikes Back”.


The company’s also forayed into mechanical toys, where researchers developed software that allows consumers to create and 3D print their own toys like Disney’s “Papillon,” a technology for 3D printing expressive, animated eyes on interactive characters, as displayed in the following video:


There are three types of people: those who have tried 3D printing, those who are fascinated by it and can’t wait to try it and those who have no idea what it is — yet. But a collaboration between 3D System, Coco Coal and Will.I.am in making the technology more accessible for novices and experienced users alike. The RKOCYCLE Cube 3D Printer encourages home users to create meaningful objects from assorted post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. I like the sustainability promotion through aspirational, yet attainable lifestyle products made in part from recycled material.

Another initiative by coca cola was the introduction of its mini bottles in Israel and worked with Gefem Tel-Aviv on its fun 3D printing idea to create tiny, digital versions of themselves using mobile app and later using 3D printers to convert them into real things.


Volkswagen Polo and DDB Copenhagen turned consumers into car designers. “The Polo Principle” campaign invited people to take control, via a website, of the automaker’s 3D printer — the one used to create the original Polo model — to design their own versions of their car. Forty of the most creative ideas were 3D printed and exhibited in Copenhagen and the designers took their creations home. Even better, the big winner was turned into a real-life Polo.




Customised shoe insoles,midsoles and orthotics are among the other products to be created using 3D printing machines and companies such as Nike and New Balance and Adidas who have partnered with technology companies to create 3D-printed performance athletic shoes  have potentially a huge market for custom-made athletic shoes and the outsize profit margins that come along with it.


While Augmented reality and 3D printing have both already been around for a while, these two emerging technologies are expected to continue hitting the headlines in 2016, according to Gartner Inc. The overall 3D printing industry continues to grow. By 2020, the market for 3D printers and the accompanying software is expected to eclipse $20 billion, according to consulting firm Wohlers Associates.

Do you know other brands using the 3D printing benefits? have you tried it yet.. share your thoughts.

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