3D printing, or additive manufacturing if you’re in the biz, is poised to revolutionize so many industries that we can barely keep up. In his book, “The Third Industrial Revolution; How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World,” futurologist Jeremy Rifkin points to 3D printing as one of the technologies at the tipping point of fundamental economic change. The barrier to immediate adoption used to be the price tag, with some 3D printers costing as much as $500,000. That’s why, initially, 3D printing was primarily used for prototyping in industries like aerospace and defense. (Curious where prototyping is headed? Check out our work with Zemax.)
But as innovation soars, adoption takes hold and costs drop, we’re looking at a 3D printed future much sooner than we thought. Because if you can print a 3D model of yourself at the UPS Store, things are about to get real.
With that in mind, let’s print ourselves…
This futuristic, circular house, able to withstand inclement weather for nearly two centuries, was printed by Apis Cor in Russia in just a mind-blowing 24 hours. It only cost $10,000 to build. And it only took ten minutes for us to get our jaws off the floor when we thought about the implications this could have on the housing market.
3D printed fashions were celebrated at the Met Costume Institute’s Spring exhibition last year, pointing to a world in which anyone with a 3D printer at home could make him or herself an outfit in the morning – to exact measurement specifications, eliminating fabric waste. Good for the closet and the environment? That’s one haute idea.
Originally funded by NASA, startup BeeHex turned its focus to the consumer market and has given us a real live pizza printer, extra anchovies and all. Though it’ll originally be featured at amusement parks and other entertainment areas, imagine the implications for communities with food shortages.
The medical industry is rampant with breakthroughs involving 3D printed body parts, the latest being 3D bio-printed skin from scientists in Madrid. Made from a person’s own cells, the skin could be lifechanging for burn victims. More printed organs and other body parts could be available for transplant soon, with the potential to make transplant waiting lists obsolete.
What’s next for marketing in the 3D world?
3D printing does and will continue to have fascinating implications on marketing. For agencies, it could change the way work is shared with clients; it’s already edging in to cutting-edge brands’ marketing vernaculars. Looking ahead, there’s potential to:
- Print a 3D model of how environmental signage will look instead of describing it in words
- Print an oversized, 3D replica of a complicated technology to use as a prop for a marketing video or demonstration
- Print recognizable 3D relics from a brand and auction them to raise funds, or use as contest prizes
- Print the food, real-time, to make a marketing event even more memorable
With everything from hearts to homes on the 3D-printed horizon, it really does seem like the sky’s the limit.