Print Hi-Tech: May
Printing, digital, and marketing convergence
Interesting news and case studies involving printing and digital technologies covered in my regular ‘Hi-Tech’ category.
Today: printed catalogs as a part of multi-channel marketing strategy; an original paper bridge in the UK; ultra-fast 3D printing technology; the Voronoi diagram for better-looking 3D models.
Printing is back in style
Recently, J. C. Penney, a chain of American mid-range department stores, announced its plans to resurrect its printed catalog. After the catalog mailings peak in 2007 and the lowest mailings level in 2012, specialty retailers are again rethinking the print medium as an important and relevant tool for sales and marketing strategies. Even digital retailers including Bonobos and Birchbox are beginning to move into printed catalogs.
Printed products are returning as a source of high quality marketing that can engage customers and build brands. A longer catalog could be sent for regular purchasers, while a shorter version could be a friendly reminder directing the customer to the company’s website.
Nordstrom reports that customers who have a multi-channel relationship with the brand spend four times as much as those who do not. And the impact of printed media is easier to track compared with digital channels. New production and printing technologies including industrial inkjet presses are coming to streamline production and make versioning simple and cost-effective.
A paper bridge: Would you use it?
A unique paper bridge, a temporary piece of work by artist Steve Messam, appeared this May at the top of the Grisedale Valley in Great Britain. Made out of 22,000 paper sheets, the bridge stood through wind and rain for 10 days until its removal.
Steve Messam spent three years developing the fully-functioning bridge and it was commissioned by Lakes Culture as part of its Lakes Ignite 2015 programme. He said the structure was sturdy enough to support the weight of walkers because the 4.5 tonnes of paper made it twice as strong as oak. The paper was specially formulated by James Cropper, a papermaker.
The eye-catching construction was five metres long and had no glue, bolts or fixings. It relied on authentic architectural principles as used in original bridges known to the Romans. The intensity of colour contrasted with the landscape, making a bold statement of form and design.
Carbon3D: Ultra-fast 3D printing technology
Autodesk announced that it would invest $10 million into the Silicon Valley start-up, Carbon3D’s ultrafast, layerless DLP process, known as CLIP 3D printing. According to developers, Carbon3D will offer 25-100x higher printing speeds compared to competitors.
The new printing process is layerless. It means that its prints will have the same level of structural integrity as injection molded parts.
Autodesk president and CEO, Carl Bass, said of the new investment, “Carbon3D embodies the innovation that’s required to change how products are made. The incredible speed of its CLIP technology makes 3D printing accessible for true manufacturing, beyond the prototyping and the one-offs we see it being used for now.”
Autodesk is manufacturing its own, more traditional DLP 3D printer. But by pushing the industry forward, more companies will be likely to adopt its Spark 3D printing software so that 3D printing might become synonymous with Autodesk.
Bonus: Made in Ukraine
The Ukrainian mathematician Georgy Voronoy defined what is now known as the Voronoi diagram. In a very simple form, the Voronoi diagram describes the partitioning of a plane into separate regions based on the distance to points in a specific subsection of the plane. Each of those partitions includes a corresponding region which is made up of all the points closer to that partition than to any other.
It appears that the Voronoi diagram can make 3D printed models look better. Marshall Peck of ProtoBuilds added the Voronoi pattern to his STL files and the resultant 3D models by importing them into Autodesk Meshmixer.
He says the patterns can provide “consistent horizontal cross sections for slices that might be helpful when using SLA resin 3D printers” and adds that models created with the technique “can print well on most Fused Filament 3D printers.” You can check out his tutorial on how to apply the Voronoi effects to your 3D models on his site, as well as further details in an Instructable he wrote on the subject.