Monday, 8 May 2017

New Printing World

3D Printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM), refers to the process used to create three-dimensional objects by successively layering material using computer controls. The possibilities for creation are endless. But with this future technology now at our doorstep, the question is: how are marketers going to use 3D printing for marketing campaigns in the future?

Although the 3D printing boom didn't take off until 2012, many of you might be surprised to know that it's been around since the 1980's. But up until now, it hasn't been advanced enough to capture the imagination of the business world. Now that our reality has become a lot more Back to the Futuresque, we can expect to see it used for printing homes, bionic body parts and maybe it will be used in artificial intelligence (AI) for humanoid robots just like in HBO's 'Westworld'.

Undoubtedly 3D Printing has already invaded our daily lives and pushed the boundaries of human experience. Let's take a look at some of the current applications.

1. 3D Printed Glass

In 2015, researchers at MIT (USA) unveiled a new process called G3DP – a method that allows for the creation of complex 3D glass structures. G3DP goes to the next level of data transfer efficiency, demonstrated through remarkable artworks which traditional handicraft could never achieve.

3D printed glass structure from Smithsonian design Museum in New York in 2016.

2. 3D Printed Industrial Parts

3D printing in the automotive industry is no longer a technical bottleneck nowadays. General Motors used stereolithography, specialized software that combines mathematical data and laser sintering to build parts out of liquid resin. A process which resulted in breakthrough improvements in the design of the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu. The rapid prototyping proved especially useful for the floor console, which has smartphone holders for the driver and passengers. This technique was also implemented on the front fascia design and front-seat back panels. The lightweight parts make the Malibu not only aesthetically pleasing, but economically sustainable when it comes to fuel consumption.

3. 3D Printed Bionic Ear

In 2013, scientists from Princeton University created a 3D printed bionic ear that can hear much better than the average human's. The bionic ear was printed with cells and nanoparticles to explore an efficient method of merging electronics with organic tissues. This technique has the capacity to bring great benefits to people around the world living with disabilities.

4. 3D Printed Shoes

Sneaker loves will be hapy to know that a few days ago, Adidas debuted its newest shoe, which has a 3D printed sole. 5,000 of the innovative 'Futurecaft 4D' shoes will be available at retail stores in fall and winter this year. Unlike other 3D printed shoes, made from materials that often become rigid or malleable, the Futurecraft 4D is different. The shoe was co-created with Silicon Valley-based startup, Carbon, using a new technology called digital light synthesis. The process enables the material to be springy and able to bounce back almost instantaneously. 
The technology works by using UV lasers to project a pattern for a midsole liquid. The light turns the liquid into a solid and the result is a flexile, but durable, midsole. The technology could save time and money in the production process and tailor physiological data and needs on demand for each individual.

Why 3D printing is more important to marketers than you think.

Global brands such as Coca Cola, Warner Bros. and eBay have experimented with 3D printing, but as of yet, marketers have yet to tap into its potential. The good news for marketers is that 3D printing provides many opportunities to deliver out of the box solutions. The technology provides innovative ways to develop and strengthen relationships with existing and potential customers. According to Steve Heller the figures show that mainstream 3D printing growth in the industry is expected to grow by 31% each year into a $21 billion market by 2020.

As marketers, we are well aware that successful marketing campaigns have one thing in common: distinctiveness. Businesses are now able to actually make and 'print' advertising and promotional products as well as interactive ideas, enabling marketers to offer originality and personalisation for consumers. Something that will be integral for the success of tomorrow’s business. 

3D Printing will not only have an impact on business and marketing, it will change our lives in more ways than we can imagine. It elaborately and seamlessly integrates the internet and digital technology with an extensive consideration of novel construction, combined with innovative materials. 3D Printed products have already been created in the fields of art, product design, interior design and architecture.
The possibilities for innovation are endless, yet the question still remains unanswered. Is it something that will be integral to business campaigns in the near future, or a passing gimmick? If you ask me, 3D printing is here to stay.

Hazel Chen and Alyce Brierley
Current student from the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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