3D PrintingIndustryNews

Do 3D Printing Like the Olympics

By August 31, 2016 No Comments

There were a lot of firsts at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games:

  • Rio de Janiero was the first South American city to host.
  • The sports of golf and rugby sevens were represented for the first time.
  • Nations like Fiji, Vietnam, and Singapore won their first gold medals.

But we mostly care about this one:

The Olympic medalists did not receive flowers during the medal ceremonies. Instead, they received 3D printed versions of the Olympic logo – a logo that was specifically designed to be a 3D image.

3D printing is becoming a valuable part of marketing campaigns for big brands. It’s the ultimate in personalization – customers are able to design items themselves or get items that look exactly like them. And it works – after their campaign using 3D printing, Volkswagen saw Polo sales increase by 17% compared to the previous year.

Check out how brands are combining 3D printing with contests, giveaways, and more to attract customers.


In the past few years, several headlines have put “NASA” and “3D printing” together, such as the 3D Printed Habitat Challenge Design Competition, where entries imagine what habitats on Mars might look like, and the Future Engineers Space Tool design competition, in which a student design was printed onboard the International Space Station.

NASA is even working on 3D printable designs for rocket engine parts, including turbopumps, injectors, and valves. They’re about 75% of the way toward being able to put together an entirely 3D-printed rocket engine – and they’re updating the public with every step.

Car Companies

First came Volkswagen’s “Polo Principle” campaign. To show they still care about their roots of “democratizing innovation,” Volkswagen let you design your own Polo prototype, which Volkswagen then printed and shipped to you. If you were one of the best 40 designs presented at the Danish Design Center, you even had a chance of Volkswagen printing your design as an actual, full-size Polo.

Then Porsche shared the .STL file for you to design and 3D print a Cayman S – as a prototype, of course. You’re still going to have to try for that promotion if you want a full-size one.

But what might be better than 3D printed cars are 3D printed cars made out of candy. For Valentine’s Day 2014, Ford worked with 3D Systems’ Sugar Lab to release miniatures of the 2015 Ford Mustang in both chocolate and sugar candy. Yum.

Customer Miniatures

Though the campaigns were all designed a bit differently, several brands have used personalized miniatures in promotions, including:

  • Coca-Cola’s Mini-Me campaign in Israel. Consumers created avatars of themselves in a mobile app, which they then had to take care of. The winner received a visit to a Coca-Cola factory and a 3D printed version of their avatar.
  • BlaBlabLab’s promotion in Barcelona. Passerby were able to step into a booth and have an action figure printed of themselves.
  • Muji to Go and ANA Airlines contest by Party. Customers scanned themselves at a Muji to Go store, with the prize being an international trip to “meet” a miniature version of yourself.

Sports Stadiums

One of our own most popular product types include replica sports stadiums, such as the ones we’ve completed for the soccer club DC United and IPTAY, the fundraising arm for the Clemson University athletics program.

These replicas are used in a range of ways. They’re especially popular as gifts for donors, season ticket holders, and other important patrons. But DC United also uses a replica at the Preview Center for its new stadium to drive excitement until opening day in 2018.

What Will Your Campaign Be?

From souvenirs to working parts and tools, 3D printing is integrating into every part of our lives. But it’s becoming especially valuable as a way for your brand to interact with the customers and allow customers a say in the products you create.

And the new Olympic medalists get something to show for their hard work besides flowers that will wilt away.