Companies like Shapeways, Sculpteo, i.materialise and Ponoko amongst others have been offering a 3D printed customisable service for a significant amount of time now, in the past year or so they've been joined by retail giants like Amazon, Argos, and Toys r Us all hoping for a slice of the personalised pie.
According to research by Deloitte that pie is set to grow from a mini Melton Mowbray into a Desperate Dan sized Cow Pie as consumers clamour for the personal touch in their products.
The popularity of the likes of Nike ID and Apple's engraving services have long proved that multinationals believe in the promise of customisation but when it comes to bespoke shape or function, products options have been limited to the handcrafted or the homemade.
3D printing has totally transformed that game; companies like Shapeways and Sculpteo see themselves, not as one-of-a-kind small-scale manufacturers but as mass manufacturers. At last year’s TCT Show + Personalize Sculpteo CEO, Clement Moreau told TCT: “If you see what we are doing for iPhone cases for example, we are mass-producing iPhone cases using laser sintering but every one of these cases is different, they are all done on-demand. The amount we are making is mass-production but for unique objects, this is a new business model entirely”
This Deloitte report found that of those surveyed 50% of consumers expressed interest in purchasing customised products or services, with 1 in 4 saying they’d be willing to pay a premium for such a service. The most promising aspect of the report for the companies, who have already taken the plunge into investing in technology capable of producing mass customised products, is that this is a trend propagated by youth. The research by the business advisory firm indicates that 43% of respondents between the ages of 16 and 24 and 46% of those aged 25 to 30 would be more attracted to a product that is personalised.
The report suggests that people would prefer to be led by brands, which bodes well for the likes of the Hasbro and Shapeways deal, which CEO Peter Weijmarshausen called the “way forward” at the 2015 International CES conference at CES.