Skateboards, Wine, and Stuffed Animals: 10 Things Print On Demand can do NOW!

by Joseph Flaherty on November 2, 2008

As a follow on to my post on “10 things 3D printers can do NOW” this list highlights a number of neat applications utilizing Print On Demand (POD) technology. If you are unfamiliar with the term it is basically souped up desktop printing. This post lists novel applications of POD technology, all available now. While not as technically complex as 3D printing, POD is shaking up a number of staid industries. POD is starting to enable the diversity of thought and ideas we see in social media in tangible form

1. Books, Business Cards, Calendars, Stamps, Assorted Paper Products

Print On Demand is the most widely used mass customization technology. Turning your photos into a book is now a commodity offering with several companies providing solutions: Apple, Blurb, Lulu, Shutterfly, Scrapblog, Tastebook, and many more will turn your work into a keepsake book.

Leaders in the field like Cafepress, Zazzle, Vistaprint, MOO can print just about anything else from business cards, to calendars to mugs and a thousand other formats. This technology was made possible with advances in Variable Data Printing by companies like Xerox.

The following applications use printing technology similar to what you have on your desk in novel ways to create a wide variety of products:

2. Toys

Xoddo is like a combination of Build-a-Bear meets Webkinz with a dash of Mr. Potato Head for good measure. The service features a highly intuitive design tool, with a great stock of building blocks that let a kid, or monster enthusiast, create a creature, share it with friends, then have the character printed out and stuffed giving them a plush monster buddy.

3. Poker Chips

The Poker boom of the earlier part of this decade is largely over but a few companies will allow you to have your own personal casino quality chips produced. Some services just add stickers, but other higher quality, services like, The Chip Lab, print directly onto the ceramic chip providing a longer lasting and bolder finish.

4. Candy

This service allows you to place a short message on M&M’s: you can announce the birth of a child or other good news in sugar. I’d love to see the factory where this happens. Playing with the design tools is an interesting way to see how industry idiosyncrasies impact customer “co-creation”. In the case of M&M’s they will not allow you to make references to “pills” and medicine and also will not allow single letters, so no X or O M&M’s.

5. Skateboards

Zazzle offers customized skateboard decks that you can personalize using your own images or existing design elements. PopDeck does something similar, copying the Threadless model making a competition out of it rather than enabling true, on-demand production.

6. Credit/Gift Cards

It is now possible to make the impersonal giftcard a bit more caring through the wonders of print on demand. Gift cards and credit cards are both customizable.

7. Shoes

Zazzle, in partnership with Keds, allows you to choose graphics for your shoes, panel by panel, allowing you to create unique combinations. This is fundamentally different than service like those provided by NIKEiD and Puma, that allow you to choose colors of materials, but not add images, patterns or other elements like these do.

8. Fabric

Spoonflower allows crafters to create patterns and have their designs printed on fabric which can then be turned into a dress, quilt, or other textile project.

9. Consumer Electronics

The Flip allows you to add an image to your digital camera via CafePress. It may ding resale value, but it is a natural out growth of the phone faceplate and customization market. This example is built-in at manufacture, but aftermarket alternatives exist. Infectious sells vinyl art for laptops and Skinit provides adhesive graphics for phones, iPods, laptops, and more.

10. Wine Labels

With the excitement around wine and microvinters, customized wine labels are a great way to express your inner oenophile. You can customize a bottle of red, a bottle of white, it all depends upon your appetite.

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  • xerox laser

    xerox laser…

    I never thought I will agree with this opinion, but you know… I agree partially now…

  • laser labels

    laser labels…

    Didn’t realise there was this type of information out there…

  • everquest platinum

    Print on demand shouldn’t cause price to increase, in fact, it will decrease price. When a book is printed and entered the market, the book can then be sold and resold. With enough supply in the market, there’s very little or no money to be made from printing new book of said book.

    I don’t know how the author gets the idea the price of books will surge in price. The only time when the price will go up is when the demand exceeds supply ability to print books. This is natural with any market, but the fact that books are printed on demand is causing it to increase in price is ridiculous.

  • Link Building Outsource

    those are really fun, i love those art design, please to more

  • budong

    very nice art, very interesting topic, cool design men

  • seotest

    right disqus

  • craft stamps

    craft stamps…

    I found your post comments while searching Google. Very relevant especially as this is not an issue which a lot of peaople are conversant with….

  • kuru

    very funny 🙂

  • office space

    I think the shoes looks amazing, i love the color thing going on there.

  • Joseph Flaherty

    Yeah the colors are vibrant in person too. The only downside is that it seems like they would get dingy fast. I remember seeing Keds all Dirty, same with the Chuck Taylor's due to the canvas material. In any case a cool application.

  • canvas prints

    the colors are amazing….love it

  • John Parker
  • dutchx5 thats were i buy my poker chips and sets

  • Broadband

    I collect skateboards and would mind having all those customised boards as part of my collection.

  • Franz Kiteboarding Gear

    I love those skateboards design nice color variations and concept!

  • Hampers

    The wines caught my attention. You see I love to place food and wines in hampers. Your wine here may be more delightful if to be placed in a fabulous wine hampers.

  • Suzie

    being able to uniquely brand or label your own day to day belongings is the future. I thinkt he biggest market will be children and young adults.

  • Traveller_Adventure

    Great post, really help me alot. Thanks.

  • windows tweaks

    you must love stuffed animals

  • windows tweaks

    omg you are very talented

  • Canvas Art

    Love the toys and candy!

  • urbanwear

    Chuck Taylor's is classic, nice collection you got there, there's missing? shirt prints

  • Workwear


  • sarahenkins12

    Cool list you got there, thanks for sharing black kitchen cabinets

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