Mass Customization In 3D printing: The Best Projects!
Posted By Jessica Van Zeijderveld on Apr 18, 2018 | 0 comments
With the vast amount of people existing on this blue orb, and companies producing more and more generic items for the masses, aka mass production, now is the time for companies to stand out with their production method. What are we talking about you might think? Well, each customer is a different individual with their own personal design or product use preferences. The fact that people keep getting dished up with generic products without any personal connection to it makes them demand more customization options for the products they buy and use.
Customization: the new frontier
Now is a great opportunity for companies to think about implementing customization into their business model. But! And here comes the ‘’but’’. Customization can be expensive. Producing a different mold for each demanded product adjustment does not only take a lot of time, but it still wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demanded preferences of all customers. This is not the case for additive manufacturing. In this blog post we will explain to you all the how’s and but’s on the use of 3D printing for mass customization.
In the following topics, we will first clarify more in-depth why mass customization is relevant in this day and age. Second, we will explain why you should implement 3D printing when offering mass customized products. Then, we will show you some pretty incredible projects of companies that have used 3D printing for mass customization. Last but not least, we might have convinced you of the use of 3D printing for mass customization resulting in your curiosity to try it out yourself. We will, of course, clarify how you can do this.
What is mass customization precisely and why is it relevant?
As explained in the intro, no customer really wants the same product that their neighbor has as well. The concept of mass customization is basically the fact that all customers wish to have some kind of visible personal aspect to a product they spent money on. This personal aspect could range from implementing their name into an existing product to changing the color of the product to their favorite one. With regular manufacturing methods, this would be achieved by adjusting the original molds/machinery or by manually adjusting your product with good old fashioned labor. Both methods are quite expensive and time-consuming.
Why is mass customization with regular manufacturing methods not ideal?
Manually changing the product would require an impossible amount of labor and thus a large increase in labor costs. Such an increase, that you wouldn’t be able to manage as a company if you wish to provide customization to many or all customers. Changing the mold or the machine’s production style is also nearly an impossible task. We say nearly, as it is possible when the costs of this customization method are implemented in the final price. However, this would result in a smaller market – which can only be ideal if you are targeting a well-off niche market – but if you are going for the mass market, they are overall not convinced to pay a considerable amount of money for a customized object.
Why should you implement 3D printing for the production of your mass customized orders?
So as explained, customers want a customized product but they don’t want to pay a much higher price for it when compared to the non-customized version of the product. All of this, because customization, in general, is expensive due to the additional or elaborate process steps. End of story. Right?
No, not with additive manufacturing. 3D printing has many benefits and in this case, the benefit is no additional costs for mass customization. 3D printing does not require any molds or specific tools that normally are needed for traditional manufacturing methods. To create a customized product, you simply update the product’s 3D file, which can be done by the customer him- or herself on your website. This update can then automatically be implemented once the customer has indicated what changes they wish to be made to the product. Because the price of the production process is the same for either 1 or 10.000 3D printed objects, you can mass produce and mass customize parts with additive manufacturing and it wouldn’t affect your production costs when making use of 3D printing!
Besides the fact that mass customization with 3D printing doesn’t affect production costs, what other benefits are there?
Now that you know that offering mass customization wouldn’t affect your production costs when making use of 3D printing, you might want to know what else there is to it.
A unique buyer and customer experience
By offering your prospects and customers a unique buyer experience – you will be one step ahead of competitors who don’t do all of this. Mass customization in 3D printing, in general, is a new frontier in business competition for it allows an increase in customer satisfaction. If you implement the right customization technology, that is adjusted for customers to easily alter your product, the customer would already feel more included in the production of the customized product – leading to an increased feeling of attachment to the purchase. Once the customer actually receives the altered customized product, he or she will feel more fulfilled with their purchase by seeing the physical changes to the product. Customer experience will improve as a whole because of these improved changes.
Create a competitive advantage
When it comes to actually being able to offer possible customers the option to customize your existing product, you can look at what other companies do. Companies like Nike give a customization option on some of their product pages by integrating a pop-up 3D modeling window. Customers are able to e.g. change color or add text to a sneaker without a lot of hassle.
By adding a similar customization option to your UI (user interface), any changes made by a customer to your product will be saved to your manufacturing process system. No additional overseeing is actually needed; everything should be able to be implemented when making use of the right technology. This allows for a competitive advantage due to the fact that you will get to know your clients better – possible in-depth Information that your competitors don’t have.
Qualitative and fast!
By making use of 3D printing, you and your customers have the option to choose out of many different qualitative materials ranging from plastics to metals. Many products of your product line can thus be manufactured with 3D printing. The manufacturing process itself is fast as it doesn’t need any specific mold or other tools to produce your products!
Examples of mass customized 3D printed products from companies
Not convinced yet on the use of additive manufacturing for the production of your mass customized parts? Start learning from the following companies that have already seen the major benefit of using 3D printing for their mass customizable production line. Here is some food for thought:
Furniture from High-End Italian furniture company Poltrona Frau
Exclusive Italian furniture company, Poltrona Frau, is one example of a company that makes good use of 3D printing for mass customization and allows customers to customize the furniture pieces themselves. Poltrona Frau offers customers a 3D tool on the website in order for them to visualize their furniture and then to be able to customize it. Due to the fact that a high-end furniture company like Poltrona Frau already implemented manual customization even before the use of 3D printing, 3D printing allowed then for them to have a manufacturing technique that is faster and reduces labor (costs) in general.
The MINI Yours Customized for BMW’s MINI car series
Mass customisation can even be implemented in the automotive industry. For BMW’s MINI series, the MINI Yours Customized service was brought into existence for BMW MINI users. This service is a fine-tuned and fully implemented mass customization service. A new online shop was set up where clients can indicate the customized changes they would like to have implemented for specific parts of the BMW MINI – such as the door handle or parts of the side plate. These customized parts are designed to the client’s creative style and made from the same high-quality materials that the actual car itself is made from.
SKODA’s Pocket Sized Fabia Model
Staying within the automotive industry, Skoda’s mass customized 3D project is one to mention as well as it was part of their marketing strategy. In order to increase product awareness and traffic of their (partnered) car dealerships, Skoda invites clients to their website in order to let them create a customized Skoda Fabia with a 3D modeling window implemented in their UI. The website and UI for this project were devised by Shivacom and our team at Sculpteo were in charge of 3D printing the customized Skoda models. This customized Fabia will then be actually produced but in pocket format – a great marketing strategy, no? This possible client can then pick up the customized Fabia at one of the dealerships where he/she then experiences a real-life-test drive with a Fabia model – a perfect example of experience economy where customers try something out before purchasing and thus increasing the likelihood of an actual purchase.
Earphone producer Normal produces customized 3D printed earphones. The customization is done in a specific way. By downloading their app, you can take a picture of your ear, then upload it to the app which then allows the user to receive custom earbuds – fitted to their ear size and comfort preference. The picture of the ear itself is merely 2D but Normal is able to produce a custom-fit pair of earphones within 48 hours from it.
Mass customized food: the future!
Although still taking baby steps, 3D printed food is hitting the food and health market. It’s becoming viral on social media but for now, it is still trying to create its own path for the future. But, it could be the answer to major health issues. 3D printed food can already be customized in a way that it caters to the health problems of its consumer. Before the 3D printing process starts, health information like allergies or other issues can be implemented in the preparation system resulting in personalized food that could be e.g. altered to your cholesterol level.
Where can you 3D print your mass customized orders?
So this is it. You have read the blog post, seen examples of mass customized 3D printed parts and now you know that the advantages are the following: you can offer your customer a unique buyer experience while staying ahead of the game at the same time, you can collect crucial data of your prospects and customers and create a competitive advantage – but mainly, offering mass customization wouldn’t affect your production costs when making use of 3D printing! Want to get right to it and achieve optimal mass customization for your orders? You can upload your files today at 3D printing service Sculpteo. As soon as it is uploaded, a member of the Sculpteo team will nest your customized orders and implement them in our next batch. Once printed, we will send it your way ASAP. Improve your production process and stay ahead of the game with mass customization achieved by additive manufacturing!