Incorporating Additive Manufacturing Into Big Occasions

Using small businesses and 3D printing technology for my wedding



Lindsey Naples


When I got engaged in April, the last thing on my mind was a 3D printer. But in case you didn’t know this already—weddings are difficult. More specifically, finding what I want is difficult. So, naturally, I turned to Etsy, the one-stop-shop for all your online, e-commerce craft needs. In the about section of the site, it specifies that the “platform connects…millions of buyers looking for an alternative—something special with a human touch, for those moments in life that deserve imagination.” Which is exactly what I needed: imagination (and a person with access to a 3D printer).


Wedding Woes

How does one plan a wedding? If you’re me, you do it in frustration. I was never one to imagine my wedding as a kid, so being thrust into the world of centerpieces and “what’s your vision?” was jarring. Thankfully, I had some sort of direction—but kept turning up dead ends. I was having the hardest time finding what I wanted; that is, until I came across a small Etsy shop that had exactly what I wanted: lanterns from the Disney movie “Tangled”.


The shop owner was so great to work with! He took my custom order and had it delivered to me in a very reasonable amount of time. It was amazing. I’d been given the only part of my wedding I had a vision for, thanks to a small business specializing in additive manufacturing (AM).


Part of my custom order from Etsy shop PixieDustDreaming


Additive Manufacturing and All It’s Possibilities

Obviously crafting and personal props are just a very small drop in a very large bucket when it comes to AM possibilities. An article published by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) predicts that “along with increases in metal and ceramics, continued growth will occur within healthcare and aerospace” in the applications of additive manufacturing. My co-worker recently published a blog about a 3D printed ear using living tissue! Tell me that’s not incredible.


Why Shop Small?

Small doesn’t always mean limited. According to Forbes, “small businesses of 500 employees or fewer make up 99.9% of all US businesses and 99.7% of firms with paid employees.” That said, just because it’s not a corporation or name brand, doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile source. More than half of the things I’ve purchased for my wedding thus far have come from small businesses, and they’re kind of the lifeblood of the economy. That same article states that “no matter how small it starts—one, two, five, 10 employees—within that town, the city, or the county, small business creates new economies where once there was nothing.”


Small business is so intrinsic that it even has it’s own day—Small Business Saturday (taking place this year on November 26th), which is a yearly occurrence to spotlight small businesses during the holiday season. It was first started by American Express in 2010 to help out smaller businesses during the Great Recession. According to an article published last year from Investopedia, “in 2011, the US Senate passed a resolution supporting Small Business Saturday. The event has since grown nationwide” and all 50 states participate! So each year, sandwiched in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, small and local shops have their time to shine—many times offering deals on that day to encourage business.


Keypoint Intelligence Opinion

I’ll say it again: small does not mean limited! Small businesses help the economy, have a range of options you may not see elsewhere, and keep the e-commerce dream alive by being accessible just as easily as bigger corporations—sometimes with the added bonus of direct communication with the actual people running the business/making your items instead of customer service.


Keep that in mind next time you need, let’s say, 75 miniature 3D printed lanterns for the tables at your wedding.


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