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There has been much hype around it but how could 3D printing be a part of marketing's future?
In advance of this, I've been talking to Ivan about the possible uses for 3D printing, for marketing and more...
I'm intrigued by 3D printing. It feels like there might be something in it. It could revolutionise business models and customer experiences in a way that is almost as disruptive as ecommerce and digital have been.
You used to go to a shop to buy something; then you could phone to order it; then you could go online, or on your phone, to see it and buy it; but what if you could print it out at home? The potential implications are enormous.
But how advanced is the technology? What are the actual use cases for it? And what are the opportunities for marketing?
From the experiential (read as ‘gimmicky’) to the practical (read as ‘will become standard practice’) there are many ways that retailers can integrate their offline stores on the high street with their online ecommerce businesses.
There’s lots of information on the blog already about digital technology in retail and a lot of it really should be thought of as the norm by now.
Unfortunately that’s not necessarily true. In a perfectly digitally integrated world the lack of services like Wi-Fi, contactless payment and click & collect would be the exception to the rule.
However there are still many trailblazers out there, not just offering the digital basics, but going above and beyond the duty of its bricks and mortar stores and offering a new world of interactivity and online integration.
Sure some of them will fail. Sure some of them you’ll barely hear about outside of a few speculative/curious articles like this (“huh, remember a few years ago when Google developed a self-driving car? What happened to that?”)
Some won’t though. Some will go on to become exactly what’s expected from every consumer who visits your high street store.
SXSW interactive started with a machine that feels like the future: Makerbot. Launched at SXSW in 2009 with a team led by Bre Prettis, Makerbot has made 3D printing slightly more affordable and has been making designers into creators.
Powered by passion, innovation, and iteration, Makerbot has given people the ability to make things on your desk and coffee table.
Just as the PC disrupted the mainframe and desktop 2D printers replaced print centers and offset services, 3D printing is bringing manufacturing to small businesses.
NASA, Ford, Nokia and an increasing number of businesses are looking to this 3D printing technology to bring design to users and give them more flexibility to experimenting with design.
In fact, seven out of the top ten architecture firms are using Makerbot. This is especially important as professional 3D printers are expensive and Makerbot can streamline the testing process and helps these companies expedite the product.