3D printing is a very fascinating technology out there in my opinion. It is a form of manufacturing that constructs products in a layer by layer process to form a final product. These final products can be much more intricate than other forms of manufacturing, as 3D printing is geometrically independent in many cases. I want to talk to you about what 3D printing can do to boost marketing efforts.
For something to be 3D printed, it first has to be designed. Anyone can create something for this manufacturing process; if it can be designed on the computer, it can more than likely be manufactured through this technology. Prior to anything, a design has to be created. This design will then be sent to a 3D printer, or the machine that manufactures the product. This 3D printer will then create a product layer by layer until a final piece emerges. The final piece could be created from materials such as ABS plastic, precious metals like gold or silver, polycarbonates or ceramics, or full colored materials. There are over 60 materials to choose from in fact.
Like I mentioned earlier, pretty much anyone can create a design for 3D printing. If someone has a computer, they can gain access to various free 3D softwares out there and then they can create a model for manufacturing! This is ideal for CG artists or designers out there who simply want to see their work come to life. What happens when small businesses or even large corporations utilize this technology?
Objet, one of the leaders in 3D printing technologies, came in contact with a very interesting client. The project I'm going to cover was used as a strong marketing piece. Bungie, developer of the video game series: Halo, approached Objet to manufacture a diorama of a battle scene prior to the launch of Halo 3. Objet constructed dozens of character models of aliens and humans 'going at it' in a large scale battle. Tanks, futuristic assault vehicles, space ships, and ogre-like aliens were created in this piece. This scale modeled battle scene was video-recorded, and used as a commercial for the launch of Halo 3. This scene caught my eye a few years ago back when I was in video games, and needless to say - I bought the product, as well as millions of other teenagers. This piece was made through 3D printing, and had a strong effect on the marketing campaign of Halo 3.
Recently, my company has taken an order from a ball-valve company that works in the oil and gas industry here in Houston Texas. Their designers came up with a model for these valves, and we 3D printed replicas of them in full color. These printed pieces were then handed to sales representatives to be used for selling the models. Having a client physically hold a model of the final product can make a huge impact on a sale!
3D printing has also helped product developers present new ideas to investors. The price to manufacture 2-3 prototypes through 3D printing isn't daunting; it can cost less than a few hundred dollars in many cases. Having a physical model of a new toy, gadget, or gizmo to present to investors is a big deal when working with people who would fund the project. This also applies to other industries like architecture. Marketing can truly be enhanced by 3D printing; having physical visuals can really change the game!