The market for 3-D printers is relatively small, but it’s still a billion dollar industry. With news of collaborations between 3-D printing manufacturers and clothing and food companies, it leads to the question of how 3-D printing will change retail in general? Will stores make products from 3-D printers and keep inventory levels low? Will displays be made with 3-D printers? The questions are endless. But let’s take a look at how 3-D printers are influencing brands now.
Victoria Secret used a 3-D printer to make part of their Angel Swarovski outfits for their 2013 Fashion Show. They were able to make a “corset” decorated with crystals with a 3-D printer. The end result was an intricate snowflake design. Yes, it wasn’t a complete outfit, but maybe we’ll be seeing more details printed with 3-D printers. Take a look at the process Victoria Secret and 3-D printer Shapeways used.
Hershey is partnering with 3D Systems to bring something new,”Whether creating a whole new form of candy or developing a new way to produce it, we embrace new technologies such as 3D printing as a way to keep moving our timeless confectionery treats into the future,”said William Papa, Vice President and Chief Research and Development Officer, The Hershey Company, in a press release. It looks like Hershey isn’t sure how it’s going to use the technology yet, but look forward to chocolate coming out of printers. Will retail stores have “Hershey Chocolate Printers” to make custom chocolates or will their products be made with a printer? Only time will tell.
Tel Aviv even has its own 3D printing store named 3D Factory, which opened in December. According to Times of Israel, the store provides the following services:
For now, 3D Factory, which opened just a month ago, will restrict its printing to PLA, ABS filament, and other plastic-source objects – but shoppers in their store, as well as designers who come in with their own model files made on their computers or who use their workstation to build their own model files, will have no limits in printing objects made of those materials. The store has a retail section as well, where customers can come in and order a model (such as a vase, bottle opener, lamp, lunchboxes, even brass knuckles) and customize it by color, shape, size, and a dozen other criteria.
Who knows when these types of stores will come to the U.S., but the articles went further on to say that it is a great attraction for tourists, artists, and other shoppers. It’s the novelty of creating your own product –the ultimate form of customer service — that keep customers coming back. Who thinks more of these stores will pop up?