From the printing press to the Internet, technology has changed the way we live our lives. Now, a new technological innovation – 3D printing – might change the world yet again. 3D printers are yet to become as prevalent as their 2D counterparts, but they already have applications in industries ranging from healthcare to aeronautics.
3D printing technology has made it possible for astronauts to print the equipment they need in space. It’s already being used to make prosthetic limbs and customized hearing aids. And printing human organs may soon become a reality!
The idea that you can “print” pretty much anything seems straight out of a sci-fi movie. But 3D printing technology is already making its way into the mainstream. Ask Raj Koothrappali from CBS’s The Big Bang Theory if you don’t believe me!
How it Works
3D printing is a form of what is known as additive manufacturing in production circles. This printing process starts with creating a digital design or blueprint of the object you want to create. Upon its completion, the design is fed into the computer.
Once the print command is given, the printer creates a three-dimensional model by creating multiple individual layers, one on top of another. To bind these separate layers and create the final model, the printer uses lasers. This method makes crafting intricate designs faster and much more cost-effective than molding.
If you’re interested in learning more about 3D printing technology, this guide by 3dprinting.com explains how 3D printers work in great detail.
Implications for the Promotional Products Industry
If you’re wondering why someone from the promotional products industry is writing about 3D technology, it’s because it affects us too. As a matter of fact, 3D printing will change the promotional product industry (and many others) as we know it! Let’s find out how:
Like most promotional product distributors, we get requests for custom molded products all the time. But unless it’s a large order, the cost per item becomes too expensive for businesses with lower budgets to afford. 3D printing eliminates the cost of making special molds. Hence, even small orders for highly customized products will become cost-efficient.
Businesses often make last minute changes to their marketing plans and are in immediate need of quality promotional items. With 3D printing, distributors can meet this demand with ease. The only limitation to production time will be how fast a printer can print. With a large enough setup, even delivering urgent customized orders will be a breeze.
Never Run Out of Stock
3D printing ensures you’ll never have to turn away customers or suggest alternatives to a trending promotional product. All you’ll need are the blueprint and materials to load into the printer. In fact, suppliers won’t have to stock up either as a “made to order” system will become the norm.
It isn’t inconceivable to think promotional swag will be instantaneously made at trade shows and events for distribution. This will mean no more cartons of unused promotional products. Moreover, it will become a hype-up factor to booths that opt for this practice. Distributors could offer this as a service by renting out a mini-production set-up to businesses who want to do something different.
Though there’s still time before we see 3D printers being used in the promotional products industry, the change is inevitable. How do you think 3D printing technology will affect the promotional product industry? Have you ever used a 3D printer or seen a 3D printed item? Feel free to share your experience and thoughts in the comments below.