How 3-D Scanning & Printing Can Change Marketing

By Bob Hutchins | Small Business

How 3 D Scanning & Printing Can Change Marketing image 3 D Printing Marketing 300x295How 3 D Scanning & Printing Can Change MarketingNeed some shower rings, but don’t want to face the traffic that’s between you and Bed Bath & Beyond? Just churn out a set on your 3-D printer at home. It might not be the norm today, but many experts predict it’s only a matter of time before your average household is printing away to the tune of $2,000 in savings per year. (Thanks to David Berkowitz for the example.)

Though 3-D scanning and printing has been around for years, the hefty price tag is finally lowering into the realm of possibility for many businesses and agencies. MakerBot, one of the leading companies in 3-D scanning and printing, recently announced that its new 3-D scanner will be available next month, starting at $1,400. The Replicator 3-D printer starts at $2,200. (Kickstarter-backed entrepreneurs could offer even cheaper alternatives in the near future.)

Coca-Cola + 3-D Printing

As 3-D scanning and printing begins to make its way into the mainstream, a few savvy marketing strategists are figuring out ways to take advantage of this technology. Coca-Cola Israel is arguably the strongest example of how this technology can lend itself to an exciting and engaging marketing strategy. To promote the new Mini-Bottle, Coca-Cola gave a few lucky consumers their own “mini-me,” a colorful 3-D figurine based upon the scan. Check out the video below:

Coca-Cola Mini-Me (3D printing) from Gefen Team on Vimeo.

Disney/Star Wars + 3-D Printing

Disney and their recently acquired Star Wars franchise also jumped on the bandwagon, creating the ultimate nerd-gift: customized Storm Trooper action figures featuring your face! Priced at $99 – if you can really put a price tag on such a gem, right? – these action figures are a total gimmick. But, I include them because they’re a terrific example of the direction marketing could go in the near future…

3-D Printing + Today’s Marketing

Aki Spicer, writing for Fast Company, said it best: “Advertisers will be forced to reconcile their physical outputs in the world in a way that spitting out spots and microsites never faced us with. Or, said differently, our ad crap is made more evident when it’s a real piece of crap sitting on a desk or floor.”

Spicer, like many other analysts, believes that 3-D printing will force advertisers and marketers to raise the bar higher than ever. It’s easy to take down a billboard or pull a smartphone app off the market. It’s not so easy to hide that one really bad 3-D object you encouraged people to print out and use.

Beyond this point of theory from Spicer, the hard, real-world benefits are numerous:

  • Businesses and marketing agencies will be able to create custom functional objects that consumers can download and use – for free – in their own homes.
  • Companies will be able to create printable 3-D objects that interact with apps, games, and other digital media.
  • Event-specific giveaways can be designed and manufactured at a fraction of the cost and time – especially for small businesses.

Here at BuzzPlant, we’re expecting to see a lot of marketing strategies take advantage of 3-D printing and scanning in 2014. As we stand on the cusp of a new and exciting era, we can’t wait to see what great ideas are produced and delivered in the world of advertising.

Have any 3-D marketing predictions of your own? Share them below.

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