Feb.28, 2014

Although 3D printing has been charting new territory in areas from medicine to fashion, the rather obvious benefits of 3D printing in marketing are often overlooked; 3D software company Loft has taken the natural step of using 3D printing as a marketing tool.

Loft is a 3D software company which develops software for the furniture retail and interior design market. Consumers are able to take a photo of their living space and, with a few clicks, use it to redesign the space digitally with the 3D software. The spaces can be digitally decked-out using the 3D software program – including things like lamps and furniture from specific retailers.

The company launched a direct marketing campaign called "Remember Loft?" to generate interest in – and awareness of – both their 3D software as 3D printing itself. The company claims that both 3D printing and the type of 3D design software which they provide is at a tipping point in widespread adoption. They hope that by being an early user of 3D technology they will be able to reap benefits in the future.

To their knowledge, the company was the first to use 3D printing in a business-to-business direct marketing campaign. They used the services of 3Dwergen, a 3D printing marketing specialist in The Netherlands, to organize and carry out the campaign which included customized 3D printed couches which are available in the Loft 3D software.

The 3D printed couches presented some design challenges. They had to be firm enough to be mailed without damage (conditions inside an envelop in transit can be grueling). The couch also needed to be small enough to be posted and well adhered to the surface. All of this would allow the 3D printed couch to arrive looking attractive to customers.

To provide a little interior context for the 3D printed couches, they were packaged in a printed cardboard pop-up room. The company hoped the combination of new technology in the 3D printed couch and old technology in the traditionally printed cardboard room would offer a unique desktop experience for their customers.

In addition to couches – the company offered their customized 3D printed versions of their customers' most popular products which were designed, printed, and sent to them by 3Dwergen, a Dutch 3D printing service startup. In addition to 3D printing, the campaign also involved some 'old school' techniques – like traditional postcard advertisements featuring 2D and lenticular printing.

The goal of the campaign was to 'get on the radar' with customers and the 3D printing campaign achieved this. According to the company, their email click ratios directly following the campaign tripled.

Loft is not the only company that uses 3D printing as marketing tool to promote their products. Munich-based aeris-Impulsmöbel GmbH & Co. KG, manufacturer of innovative active-chairs for offices and home is using 3D printing technology to create 3D models of their office chairs. Instead of receiving 2D product brochures their clients will get flyers and photos of chair designs as well as a 3D printed miniature model of the chair.

Image credit: Creabis

These 3D printed models allow resellers to clearly demonstrate aeris' products to existing and potential customers and boost sales their products. "This type of tool is highly welcomed by our resellers and they are grateful for the additional sales support by aeris," says Meike Maier, marketing and communication manager at Aeris.

Image credit: Creabis

The office chair models are printed using a laser-sinter process (SLS) by Creabis, a laser-sinter and 3D printing services company based in Feldkirchen near Munich, Germany. SLS involves the use of a high power laser to fuse small particles of polyamid-based powder into a mass that has a desired three-dimensional shape. Aeris' 3Dee and muvman chairs are being printed in white and then painted black. Other models need additional steps like metallic coating, gold plating or sanding.

These successful use of 3D printing in direct business-to-business marketing may be considered a template for other businesses interested in using 3D printing in their marketing strategy.

Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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