9 Ways to Use 3D Printing in Your Company

3D printing isn’t just for big companies like GE.

Nor is it only for inventors and designers who just want the quickest way to figure out how to make something work.

Almost any business can use 3D printing in some way – even as a commercial service (we told you why and how you should offer 3D printing here).

But it’s okay if you still need some convincing. Here are ways you can use 3D printing in your company.

Create Promotional Pieces for Your Marketing

Do this and you’ll be joining major corporations like Coca-Cola and Volkswagen. 3D printing your marketing materials allows you to:

  • Print items as needed (rather than ordering the ridiculously large minimum required by many manufacturers and hoping you’re able to give away all of it)
  • Customize items to each event or what the customers want (which gives you plenty of opportunities to be creative)
  • Reduce your marketing expenses (since you’ll be printing as needed instead of large quantities that you need to store)
  • Alter your designs as needed (use the same item but with a different date or name)
  • Design your own photo shoot or trade show props

Design and Print Office Equipment You Can’t Find in the Store

Or shave some money off your office budget and start 3D printing all of your office supplies.

You can do more than you think. Platforms like Thingiverse, Pinshape, and MyMiniFactory contain thousands of designs – you just need to download (you might have to buy in some instances) the 3D files and print.

Find designs for:

  • Hooks
  • Organizers
  • Tape dispensers
  • Signs

And even wheel holders for those times you need to pretend your office chair is a racing simulator.

Use 3D Printing to Make Models and Maps for Your Clients

Paper maps and models are so last century. If you want to really help your clients visualize the products you’re creating for them, 3D print a scaled down version.

Yes, this is very effective for architects, builders, and designers. But other groups enjoy these models, too.

At ZVerse, we’ve printed replicas of buildings as donor gifts and souvenirs. Several organizations are using 3D printing to create 3D maps for people with visual impairments.

Create Permanent Representations of Data for Presentations

Imagine you are about to give a presentation.

Only instead of spending your last few minutes before (and the first few minutes of) the presentation fiddling with the technology that worked just fine when you tested it thirty minutes ago, you’re able to greet and chat with the attendees for a few minutes.

You don’t have a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation. You have 3D models of your data. No more glazed eyes or discreet glances at cell phones and tablets while you point a laser at a screen.

Reverse Engineer Components

Have a customer asking for a replacement part for something you don’t make anymore?

That scenario used to require searching through your database hoping the part is in storage somewhere. Or having to manufacture a bunch of parts at substantial cost just to make one customer happy. Or saying no and risking the loss of your customer and bad reviews.

Instead, create a 3D file of the part and print it within a few hours.

Customize Your Products

Deloitte found that 36% of consumers want personalized products. And as more companies make it possible, and more consumers come to realize it’s possible, that percentage is likely to go up. Especially since more than 40% of those under 30 are interested in personalization.

3D printing makes the process simpler since files can be altered between every print relatively easily (as opposed to changing out machinery parts or even establishing separate assembly lines as is necessary in traditional manufacturing processes).

It’s also a solution for limited edition products or other times you want to manufacture a product in several different colors or other options.

Create Unique Pieces for the Office

Company culture has become a buzzword, sure, but that doesn’t change that we like to have a little fun at work. We celebrate milestones, give people nicknames, commemorate silly events.

And with 3D printing, we can make those events even more official. The platforms mentioned above are just as helpful here as they are for finding new office supplies.

Or print items for customer relations. Maybe you give a little figurine of your mascot to every new customer. 

What 3D Printing is Best Known For: Creating Prototypes

If you’re in an industry where you’re constantly developing new designs or tweaking the ones you’re currently working on, you need 3D printing for rapid prototyping.

Since all you need to do is alter the file before you print again, 3D printing allows you to make changes much more quickly than if you had to redraw each design and hand-make the models.

Get Out of Manufacturing

3D printers were massively expensive (and large) when they first became available. But now we have desktop versions that are much more affordable. Individuals now own 3D printers. Libraries and schools have printers available. 3D printing services are available locally and online.

So you don’t even have to manufacture your products yourself anymore. You could simply sell your design and give consumers the opportunity to alter the design to suit their needs before they print the items themselves.

Some say it’s still a while before this is reality. Many materials still can’t be printed. There are concerns over 3D printing and copyright law. But it’s a possible enough future that logistics companies such as UPS have already started to develop plans to make it work for them rather than against them.

Making 3D Printing Work for You

If you don’t want to be the last ones taking advantage of this technology, you don’t need to invest in printers and 3D designers now. The 3D printing services would be just as happy to work with you as your customers.

So try it out. Make a tape dispenser or a plaque or two. Then see how you can incorporate 3D printing into your own company’s processes.