The newest 3D printers have made 3D printing technology affordable, which could create a highly competitive industry among home-based inventors, designers and other innovators. The possibilities of 3D printing seems endless, and begs the question whether traditional 2D marketing materials will be replaced by more dynamic 3D versions – and risk the livelihoods of so many graphic designers who have spent years honing their 2D design skills. Should 3D printing worry graphic designers?
No and absolutely not. First, 3D printing isn’t going to replace any marketing materials anytime soon. Moreover, there is little 3D printing can achieve that traditional printing hasn’t already figured out how to do. A glance at the many different shapes of packaging proves that point. But what’s more important here is that 2D marketing materials are already optimized for use. Brochures fold flat, not into cubes, for a reason; and so there would be little purpose (other than novelty) for a 3D printed brochure, for example.
Moreover, 3D printing represents another opportunity for graphic designers. You already have the foundation for crafting amazing designs; now, you can apply it to the 3D world (if you’re not already a 3D modeler) and make yourself more marketable now and in the future. Add in just a touch of structural engineering knowledge, and you can attract clients who need small-scale 3D manufacturing and those that want to develop innovative new ways to market their products and services with 3D printing (in addition to traditional 2D materials). You can also create templates for products and sell them to others to customize and print on their own 3D printers.
If you want to stay ahead of the game, invest a little time to try your hand at 3D design. You don’t even have to purchase a 3D printer (though they can be had for around $1,000); you can simply send your design off to a 3D printer to be printed and shipped to you.
3D printing is here to stay, but it will be some time before it’s mainstream. Either way, there is no reason for graphic designers to worry; 3D printing is just one more way you can make money as a graphic designer. Sure, it might be an outstanding niche to venture into, but it’s not the only niche.
Decide if 3D printing makes sense for your portfolio. If it does, gain experience by creating your own 3D products. If it doesn’t, forge forward without a second guess. Either way, you’re making the right decision: the decision that works for you.
Do you have experience with 3D design and printing? Tell us about it in the comments!