As 3D printing grows, more businesses have expressed an interest in integrating the technology into their operations. But, if you don’t directly work in a business environment that needs to 3D design and print items, how else can you incorporate the technology into your business? One fact is certainly on your side in all this: the public continues to show a great curiosity for the technology. I know that simply because when I tell people I am a 3D printing writer, they always show a great interest, if not a little bit of confusion, about how the technology can be used. A recent Sculpteo blog tells us that there are more ways than you may think to use 3D printing in all of your company’s departments.
Let’s begin with the marketing department. Here we offer an example of creative use of 3D printing in marketing by the French Tech movement, which is a recent effort in France to recognize metropolises for their startup ecosystems. FrenchTech has the goal of providing a recognizable visual identity for French startups, and so the organization settled on a red rooster. From there, they had it 3D designed and printed in the form of lapel buttons that could be worn at FrenchTech events. You can see from the above photo that even France’s President Hollande is on board with the red rooster idea. Branding and 3D printing related brand paraphernalia is a great way to use 3D printing in your business marketing strategies.
Now let’s consider how your commercial department can use 3D printing technologies. “Mass-customization” is the key here; Although it sounds like a contradiction in terms, this is when you produce product lines that can be individually personalized at the same time. For example, Adidas, Nike, Under Armour, and New Balance have all decided to get onboard the 3D printing bandwagon. How? The companies have created distinctive lines of 3D printed custom shoe soles that are made with the purpose of individual customization through 3D scanning of the customers’ feet. So, you have both the large-scale production (mass) combined with the personalized fit (customization).
A few things are required to achieve this 3D printing business goal. The first is you need to capture personal data using some kind of interface. Next, engineers and 3D designers can help you transform customer data into a topological representation of the product. Finally, you need to consider cost: which markets should be targeted for mass-customization? Who is most likely to purchase customized 3D printed products?
It is perhaps the easiest to imagine how a finance department can use 3D printing: you can buy or lease a 3D printer. There’s also the possibility of outsourcing it for others to use as a way to cover costs. On the production side of things, of course 3D printing helps rapidly develop prototypes, therefore allowing the company to keep up with its own production goals. 3D printing can also be used for small- and medium-scale production of actual products, and we see that many more businesses are getting in on 3D printing at the ground level, starting small and building up a strong customer base that will follow them as they expand.
There’s even a way that Human Resources can use 3D printing. This department can get more workers involved by promoting 3D modeling education via online courses, or they can even give away a 3D printer to an employee as a way to generate more interest in the technology around the office. Finally, Research and Development departments can relate to the technology on an experimental basis. One example of this is how French company L’Oréal has partnered with Organovo to 3D print living skin that can be used to test cosmetics.
The moral of this story here, is that there are many direct and indirect ways each department of your company can relate to 3D printing, and it is likely that you will come up with even more ways once you begin the integration process. After all, the technology has a tendency to inspire people to create previously unimaginable things. Would you like to integrate 3D printing into your business? Discuss in the 3D Printing and Business Marketing forum over at 3DPB.com.