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3D Printing in Signage and Retail

The next generation of technology is transforming marketing and the way advertising & themed environments are created. With large format 3D printers super sized objects for retail, staging, display, events and architectural design can be produced. Objects can be fabricated in any size and shape without the restrictions of traditional methods. 3D printing in signage and retail provides the opportunity to create stunning eye-catchers.

Requirements of 3D Printing in Signage & Retail


With a single 3D printed object, greater strength can be accomplished. This is due to the perimeters encapsulating the entire object and passing loads throughout without disruptions in the path. The Infill that is inside also assists in taking the load and spreading it through the entire print and thus reducing stress concentrations. This enables prints to be exceptionally strong in compression, and to a lesser degree, tension. Depending on the infill rates used on a print, the forces necessary to cause damage might be well in excess of what an average adult could exert.

No Assembly Required

There are numerous instances where 3D printed objects are glued, melted, or mechanically held together to form bigger pieces. One of the qualities of being able to print in a seriously large format is that pre- and post-processes can be eliminated. When printing smaller pieces for an item that will be assembled, there may need to be design work to add pegs and keys assist pieces in locking together. On the backend, utilizing glues and other methods are time consuming and not always simple. The ability to fabricate a big object in one go helps to simplify the manufacturing process and save time.

Life size

We’ve seen 3D printers make everything from toys to jewellery to food, but the signage and retail industry needs bigger. So big, in fact, that this industry demands 3D printers that can print entire pieces of furniture and sculptures. Channel letters, tables, lamps, action figures and mannequins all fit into the idea of life size 3D printing in signage and retail.

a 3d printed huge beer bottle
3d printing a huge bottle which is used for signage
an example of 3d printing in signage: a huge bottle

Practical Functionality

In addition to the life size benefit of large format 3D printing in signage and retail, practical functionality is also a key perspective. For instance, to scale models of hand-held gadgets, toys, newly designed point of purchase displays, and many more items are useful for sales and visualization purposes.

Expanded Creativity and Capability

Many more details can be expressed or replicated in a piece that is large. For instance, there have been several artists who have made pieces over 20 feet long by incorporating 3D printing into their skillset. Sculptures of dinosaurs with fantastic skin detail have been cast by a lost wax process after using 3D printed pieces as the base of the work. Full size busts of persons have been printed as well as spaceship simulators and functional robots. The possibilities for creating new items is endless!

3d printing a big object for signage on a Tractus3D printer
the 2 halves of a 3d printed big bird are glued together
side view of a 3d printed big bird
Guy spraying a 3d printed big bird
guy painting a big 3d printed signage object
a huge bird as an example of 3d printing in signage

Common Applications of 3D Printing in Signage & Retail

1. Soft Signage - Frames

Soft signage, digital textile printing, is a fabric graphic inserted into a frame. Traditionally these frames are created out of aluminum, wood, acrylic, and steel. With todays technologies, why not 3D printed? After 3D printing the frame you can finish it with lighting to make it stand out even more. When you have a large volume 3D printer which is able to create huge designs, this opens up a world of possibilities.

2. Branding with Channel Letters

Channel letters are the number one choice in exterior signage on public and commercial buildings. It can also be used to attract customers to an exhibition stand or decorate the interior of a store. These custom-made letters are made out of metal or plastic and often internally illuminated. 3D printing channel letters on demand with a large format printer will save a lot of time and money compared to traditional methods.

Ornaments being produced on a Tractus3D printer
Ornaments being produced on a Tractus3D printer

3. Ornaments and Architecture

Through the introduction of large volume 3D printing, the architecture industry has changed. The ability to create large objects using 3D printing will simplify construction and renovation projects. They can take on a completely new identity thanks to the ability to 3D print large structures, for example ornaments. Ornaments no longer have to be handcrafted, significantly reducing labor costs as well as material costs (since it is made of plastic).

logo of woonstad rotterdam

The city of Rotterdam 3D prints ornaments - costs are reduced with 70%

Through the introduction of 3D printing, the construction industry has changed. 3D printing makes construction processes and projects a lot more efficient and streamlined. One example of this is the way in which renovation work on old, historic buildings is carried out. The 3D printed constructions have exceptional strength, durability and they are lightweight, making them far more durable than the original ornaments and gutters. Read more >

The original old gutter
The original old gutter
Tractus3D engineer is montaging the 3D printed ornament
Installation of the large 3D printed construction
Detail of the 3D printed ornament
Detail of the 3D printed ornament
The 3D printed ornament is shown on the building
The 3D printed ornament shown on the building
3D printed table and chair with yellow pillow
3D Printed

4. Interior Decor

Large format 3D printers enables people to 3D print lamps, tables, chairs, etc. Designers now have the ability to create interior decor on the spot. First they will make a digital design of the decor and after that they can make it reality by 3D printing it.

Tractus3D large size printer next to 3D printed mannequin
Tractus3D large size printer next to 3D printed mannequin

5. Custom Sculptures of Mannequins for Retail

People are no problem to 3D print. Celebrities, football players, catwalk models, you name it, can be printed. Large volume 3D printing allows for entirely customized campaigns. One of our clients is 3D printing entire fashion mannequins for their retail customers.

logo of hans boodt mannequins

3D printing sculptures of mannequins reduces the production time from 8 weeks to 2 days

Mannequins are the ultimate form of display for every clothing store around the world. When the finest brands in fashion need mannequins, they go to Hans Boodt Mannequins, a Dutch company that makes unique high-end mannequins for the most discerning fashion designers and brands. Customers are fashion labels such as Calvin Klein, Lacoste and Tommy Hilfiger. With help of 3D printing the sculptures can be manufactured faster and cost efficient. Read more >

Designers of Hans Boodt 3D modeling mannequins for 3D printing sculptures of mannequins
Designing the Mannequins
Side view of a life size 3D printed sculpture of a mannequin
The 3D printed sculpture of a mannequin
Owner of Hans Boodt standing in front of Tractus3D life size 3D printers
Owner of Hans Boodt in front of large 3D printer
Heads of life size fashion mannequins that are 3D printed making use of the Tractus3D life size industrial 3D printers
Customizing the mannequins is much easier thanks to 3D printing sculptures

6. Light your world

You can print entire lamps in one piece with a large format 3D printer. Tractus3D printers in combination with the 3D printing software Simplify3D enables you to print a hollow object to fit the light bulb without any problems.

7. Point of Purchase Displays

3D printers are used in retail to manufacture point-of-purchase stands like exhibition kiosks and displays. This is down to the flexibility of 3D printing and the wide range of colors of the printable materials (filaments).

Big Garnier bottle 3D printed on a large scale 3D printer at the CPrint, a visual communication tradeshow

8. Exhibition Designs

When organizing special events you can distinguish yourself with a large format 3D printer. They are ideal to produce parts of exhibition designs or props to impress visitors. Create your own 3D printed guest, for example a lifesize sculpture or action figure like Batman, to amaze everybody.

Do you have a question about 3D printing in Signage & Retail? Don't hesitate to contact us!

Find out exactly how 3D printing can improve both end results and the bottom line of your company. 3D printing in signage and retail positively affects many aspects. Our experts can tell you more about it, so together we can discover how and where 3D printing will have a significant impact. Contact us via the form below to and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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Photo of the founder of Tractus3D
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