When U.S. President Barack Obama touted 3D printing's revolutionary potential
in his State of the Union address earlier this year, he probably wasn't imagining Hollywood would have much to do with the technology, at least not anytime soon.
But that's not the case. Two recent Hollywood blockbusters are utilizing 3D printing in new marketing campaigns. Most recently, Warner Bros. teamed up with Microsoft
to offer fans of "The Hobbit" a free digital blueprint of "The Key to Erebor," a key item in the latest movie which will be released later this month. Fans are able to print the keepsake at home or send the blueprint to a 3D printing company to have it printed. In a blog post, Microsoft's Owen Sagness called the marketing campaign
a "digital advertising solution that is truly at the forefront of global innovation."
Last month "Ender's Game" was promoted through Sandboxr
, allowing fans to build and print their own 3D "Ender's Game" figurine.
Hollywood, which has spent years attacking movie pirates, might just go in the opposite direction with 3D printing.
Rather than sue The Lord of the Rings fans who create their own film props and upload them to a site like Thingiverse, Warner Bros is uploading the models themselves, boosting both the film’s marketing and the company’s reputation in the eyes of Makers and enthusiasts.
Of course, Hollywood isn't the first to use 3D printing for advertising gimmicks -- the likes of Coca-Cola and Ebay have joined them
-- but they certainly won't be the last