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How to Use 3D Printing to Market Your Business

By March 17, 2017 No Comments

It’s fairly common for companies to use 3D printing in their marketing these days.

We’ve written about it before. Industries like consumer goods, automotive, entertainment – even NASA – have used 3D printing in marketing campaigns to:

  • Print customer miniatures
  • Release 3D files of branded items
  • Print customer-designed collectibles of actual products

But there’s still so much more to do. Here are some of the ways we think companies should be using 3D printing in their marketing campaigns.


Contests have been done before (like Volkswagen’s Polo Principle). But there are certainly other ideas for contests that haven’t been explored.

Offer a Vote on Your Future Designs

Show designs for your next season or a new product. Let your customers vote on their favorite version. Then pick one voter to receive a 3D printed version of the product. (It doesn’t have to be the actual product – prototypes and models work, too.)

Turn It Over to the Customers

Let your customers develop 3D files for your current products – or send you files of completely new ideas.

Go Open Source

Release an open-source 3D file of a product and vote on the best modification submitted (possible or impossible to print – that’s up to you).

Personalize Your Branded Items

This is another one that hasn’t been explored completely. Why stop at miniatures?

Personalize Your Swag

You’re at an event like an expo. Normally you’d hand out a small stuffed version of your mascot. Let’s say he’s a bear.

But this time you hand out vouchers leading your visitors to a website. On the website, visitors choose to have the bear printed as purple wearing a T-shirt from the college they attended. You print their customized bear and send it to them.

Make It Limited

Or, you could print limited editions of an item. And since 3D printing makes it easy to alter the object being printed, make each item slightly different. So now you’ve not only created a marketing piece – you’ve built some buzz around a collector’s item.

Take Your Donor’s Gifts a Step Further

Every donor has a different story that led to them giving you money. Print items that mean something to each donor, rather than one gift that all receive. How’s THAT for building goodwill?

Think Outside the Box

Coca-Cola’s “Mini Me” campaign had nothing to do with the product. (Other than the contest winner getting to tour the factory.)

So why not take advantage of what 3D printing is good at without tying it directly to your brand?

Set up a booth with a 3D scanner, take the scans, and then mail the 3D prints to the participants within a specified amount of time.

Be Heartwarming

3D printing beats other processes when the product has to be highly individualized, but also needs to be relatively inexpensive. What are some one-of-a-kind items in demand every year? Babies’ handprints or footprints, or pets’ pawprints.

Offer 3D Printing as a Service

Since photographs are so easy to take now, most people don’t see them as truly impactful. So they take favorite photos to an artist to have paintings done of the images. But instead of paintings, offer to turn their favorite photos into 3D-printed statuettes.

Give It to the Kids

Kids come up with some crazy things (which we learned when we partnered with a local elementary school). So set up a little art studio, let the kids run away with their imaginations, and then send parents physical replicas.

Use 3D Printing for Manufacturing

Before all else, 3D printing is a manufacturing process (it’s also called additive manufacturing). So the simplest way to incorporate 3D printing into your marketing campaign is to use it for manufacturing whatever items you choose to put out there.

3D Print Your Next Marketing Campaign

Whether you decide on fun or functional, branded or not, 3D printing can add a whole new element to your marketing campaigns. What are some new ways you would use 3D printing to promote your business?