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3D printing in the retail industry: What are the advantages?


Additive Manufacturing is making its way up in different sectors of retail by improving production and customer experience. From 3D printed washing machine parts, electronic components, to 100% sustainable shoes, companies try to create a totally new and improved customer experience! And the latter factor is the key to be successful in the retail industry. On top of that, 3D printing has a great influence on the production process making it more efficient and effective. Let’s find all the advantages of Additive Manufacturing and the most interesting examples of 3D printing in the retail industry!

Retail industry and additive manufacturing

The retail industry is the business of selling consumer goods; it offers the possibility to customers to purchase from various types of merchants. All these consumer goods have their own specificities, and additive manufacturing is a way to create adapted objects, perfectly fitting your needs and your customer’s needs. The retail industry already benefits from 3D printing in many different ways and surely there are even more to come. 

For now, it speeds up the production, reduces the costs and inventory waste, and allows for custom-made and highly personalized product design. How do we get all those amazing perks just from one technology? Let’s get more into details

What are the advantages of 3D printing for the retail industry?

Create new structures

Thanks to the wide choice of materials that we offer such as plastic, resin, metal, or our multicolor material, it is possible for you to 3D print your most ambitious projects in not much time and to change it according to your will. Additive manufacturing is allowing to create complex and intricate geometries, impossible to get with other manufacturing techniques such as injection molding. Push the boundaries of manufacturing by making the most of this 3D printing technology. In a sector like retail, develop all new ideas by mixing traditional materials and 3D printing to help you significantly stand out from your competitors. For instance, using additive manufacturing when you’re a fashion designer becomes more and more common in order to create 3D printing clothing that will shake up retail.

Let mass customization become your strength 

With 3D printing, you can unleash your imagination to create any object, and get products designed to perfectly match your customer’s expectations. Indeed, some retailers offer you to fully customize your product from A to Z in order to have a unique item to your image. When you use 3D printing technology, your imagination is the only limit.

Many retailers will help you to customize your product by integrating various 3D printed details. Once the object is created you can 3D print it easily through our online 3D printing service.

Speed up your production

On average, additive manufacturing produces parts faster than traditional manufacturing technologies, such as injection molding. It can be even faster if you use a 3D printing service like Sculpteo: all you need to do is to upload a 3D model and your parts will be delivered to your door in no time. With some 3D printing technologies, you can also print interlocking parts that are impossible to do with traditional manufacturing methods. It also speeds up your production thanks to the reduction of assembly time.

3D printing is widely known for being highly beneficial for prototyping. It can speed up the design process, and therefore the whole production, as it delivers highly detailed prototypes ready to test in no time.  


Rethink your supply-chain and cut back on inventory waste

Nowadays, retailers have to predict upcoming trends and adjust the purchase of goods accordingly. That’s a tough task and means that one poor judgment can result in huge inventory waste. With 3D printing that’s no longer a problem, as ordering the products is easy and your products will be delivered just in time. Busy warehouses can easily disappear by rethinking your whole supply chain and getting the parts you need 3D printed when you need them.

Grow your business thanks to additive manufacturing

Many companies in the retail industry have turned to 3D printing. These companies can integrate 3D printing into their business model and supply chain in different forms. Indeed, 3D printing and digital manufacturing truly transform retailers. For instance, businesses can improve customer experience thanks to an improved retail space. Their business strategy may also be to develop their own 3D printed inventory. They can create a specific catalog with 3D printable pieces.

Choose the best manufacturing partner

In order to upgrade and speed up your product development and manufacturing process, you will need to choose the perfect manufacturing partner for your business. Implementing 3D printing could help you go through new challenges. For this, you will need to work with a reliable business partner, and this is the kind of business relationship you will get working with Sculpteo’s online 3D printing service. Investing in 3D printers might not be your part of your business strategy as professional 3D machines are expensive.

With more than 10 years of experience in 3D printing, Sculpteo is offering easy access to a wide range of technologies and high-performance materials. Uploading your 3D model will generate an instant quote, and after ordering, you will receive your parts in just a few days. Moreover, with experts here to provide all in the information you’ll need and all their best tips to help you optimize your business strategy. Need help to discover, implement, and make the most of this game-changing manufacturing technique? Our Sculpteo Studio team also offers training, consulting, and design services. 

What 3D printing materials could benefit your projects in the retail industry?

It will depend on the type of project you need, Sculpteo is here to support you thanks to a catalog of various 3D printing materials, from plastic to metal and resin. The type of material you will choose depends on several factors. First the development stage of your project: do you need a material to prototype? Do you need a material for your whole production process? The material choice will also depend on the mechanical properties you need for your project: does your part need to be highly detailed, flexible, robust, or resistant to heat or chemicals? All of these criteria have to be taken into account in order to get the best 3D printing experience possible.

Some materials are perfect for both prototyping and production while using Selective Laser Sintering such as Nylon PA12 or TPU MJF. Nylon PA12 (Plastic) is great for both experienced professionals and beginning designers because of its high precision and low cost. MultiJet Fusion TPU is a perfect 3D printing material choice if you need to produce parts requiring shock absorption, high elasticity, and energy return. For flexible lattices and complex parts, this material is ideal. 

For impressively detailed objects, you will choose a resin material using Stereolithography, DLS, or Polyjet technologies! While metal parts can be printed using FDM, DMLS, SLM, Binder Jetting, or casting technologies. 3D printing materials are offering endless possibilities for retailers. 

Make the most of Sculpteo’s finishing!

Finishing can really make the difference for your 3D printed parts and allow it to stand out from the other products. Here are our finishing suggestions for your 3D printing projects and end-use parts! From polishing, to dyeing or painting, there are also a lot of opportunities for your project.

  • Chemical smoothing: This finish is a high quality surface finish that can be used for your Nylon PA 12 and your TPU Multi Jet Fusion 3D printed parts. This physicochemical reaction uses an exclusive process to create really smooth surfaces, that look like injection molding parts!  
  • Dyed with Color Resist finish: A dyeing finish with a matte look that resists friction and allows for more consistent color between different production batches.
  • Dyed with Color Touch finish: With this dyeing finishing your 3D printed part gets a satin look. It withstands daily handling and is the perfect finish for parts that are exposed to external conditions, scratching, and rubbing.

Retailers using 3D printing: Get inspired

  •  3D printing clothes

From integral pieces to unique garments or accessories, and interesting meshes, additive manufacturing has a lot to offer to the fashion industry. Mass-customization can obviously represent a main advantage, allowing to offer uniques pieces and adapted clothes. But it is also offering the freedom designers need to reveal all their creativity!

3D printing opens new creative fields for the fashion industry and allows to add up cutting-edge technology to traditional techniques such as optimization of production processes, customization possibilities, cost optimization (including storage with on-demand printing), or creation of complex shapes.

  • 3D printed shoes

Thanks to advanced materials such as TPU, shoes can now be partially created with 3D printing technology. Actually, the midsoles of running shoes are particularly suitable for 3D printing, giving the opportunities to manufacture made-to-measure shoes. Big shoe manufacturers are already implementing additive manufacturing into their strategy. For example, brands like Adidas, Nike, New Balance, and Under Armor have already printed sneakers!


  • 3D printed furniture

Without a question, IKEA is the most well-known brand of 21st century across the world. If they want to keep that up, they have to be ready for any innovative technologies that could improve their product design and production systems. And that’s why they proceeded with implementing 3D technologies into their production.

Thanks to 3D printing, they designed personalized, interactive, and ergonomic video game equipment. Such a high level of detail and customization of the products wouldn’t be possible without Additive Manufacturing. For a greater level of comfort, the first prototype, a 3D printed chair, was presented with features more suitable for gamers. The goal is for the person to 3D scan themselves for the ultimate personalization of the chair. And thanks to 3D printing, the customer would receive the chair in just 2 weeks. Wouldn’t such customization and fast service keep your customers happy?


  • 3D printed spare parts

Some well-known manufacturers such as Whirlpool or Porsche are already using additive manufacturing to improve their spare parts management. Whirlpool is now digitizing its part catalog, to fight against obsolescence. As the company produces a lot of machines, they also need a lot of spare parts and it already has quite a huge catalog. In this case, additive manufacturing can be really useful.

Now if we take the example of Porsche, their Porsche Classic division dedicated to Porsche’s classic vehicles uses 3D printing for the production of spare parts for rare cars! Indeed, due to being rare vehicles, their original parts aren’t always being produced anymore. In order to have the fitting and accurate working components, they are 3D printed according to the original piece.

Can 3D printing change the retail industry?

Additive Manufacturing is already doing that! We have to be open to new technologies and discover the best of them. Thanks to 3D printing, big players such as Siemens or Nike are shortening the production process from weeks to days. That also means entering the market with a new product faster, which can also lead to making a profit faster than your competitors.

3D printing is not only about reducing costs and time of production, but can also bring the customer experience to a totally new level of the ultimate customization and personalization. This aspect of 3D printing in the retail industry goes not only for fashion, which uses it to provide customers with the most comfortable and custom-made clothing. Positive customer experience is generally so valuable in the retail industry. Additive Manufacturing can be used to give your clients a little bonus, which will make your business stand out from the crowd, bringing more attention to your product, and making it more memorable.

The world’s biggest companies in different branches of the retail industry such as Adidas, Whirlpool, or IKEA are already using 3D printing for faster production, costs reduction, and high level of customization. Is it time for your business to be improved with Additive Manufacturing?

Start working with us now on your 3D printing projects! Contact our sales team, or upload your 3D model on our website.

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