What Funeral Directors Should Know About 3-D Printing & Why It Matters.

New Technology Disrupts Old Business

Do you still have a VHS video recorder? Do you still have to rewind those tapes before you take them back to Blockbuster? You can’t can you? Why? Because Blockbuster went buster! New technology came along, and it changed the marketplace. 

The Funeral Industry is about helping people at a difficult time. It is also about meeting people's changing requirements.

New Technology Disrupts Old Business.

The same trend is happening in the funeral industry. Will the funeral industry go bust? No, of course not. Independent Funeral Directors could however, see their business reduce by not adapting and changing with the times. 

In this post, I explore the disruptive technology that is 3-D printing. What it is and why Funeral Directors should sit up and notice of this development. Why it could also add a profitable income stream to any funeral business. 

3-D Printing. What’s That All About?

Thirty years ago Charles Hull in an attempt to help the failing motor industry in the USA came up with an idea that’s been called *additive manufacturing*. A process where an item is built up layer by layer, rather than *subtractive manufacturing* which starts with a block of material and then removing material until the desired item is left. 

With the launch of 3D Systems in the 1970's, 3-D printing was born. The story of how it evolved from then to the development to having a 3-D printer in your home now makes for fascinating reading. For more on this subject, the book BOLD by Peter Diamandis & Steven Kotler makes for eye opening study.

Today 3-D printing is transforming the manufacturing processes of the world. Aerospace, Automotive, Health Care and Consumer products are all being radically challenged by the technological disruption that 3-D printing brings.  Not aware of what 3-Dprinting can do? Watch this video by 3D Systems.

 

How Is 3-D Printing Impacting The Funeral Industry?

Today, innovative entrepreneurs are harnessing the power of 3-D printing to create unique Urns. What particular item brings to mind the image of a loved one? A special car? A certain hat? Maybe an individual musical instrument, or even a tool kit? Using the technology of 3-D printing exact copies of those items can be printed and created into an urn. Say your loved one played golf. 3-D printing allows you to make an exact copy, including the marks, dents and scruffs of the golf bag and then it’s turned into an urn. The most consistent factor driving companies to digitise their businesses is consumer demands. Consumers want this choice now. 

In a recent Huffington Post article, a family unwraps the 3-D Space Shuttle Urn they have commissioned for their father, Felipe Herrera. A former NASA engineer, working on the construction of the original Columbia shuttle was one of his most treasured memories. So the family had a space shuttle created for his ashes. Just look at how pleased they are with their purchase. It was not cheap; it's about $2500. What a unique opportunity for certain clients who want the ultimate in individual design for their loved ones.

Two companies in this market that you could check out are Foreverence  and EturnalMemorials These are not the only companies, and I am sure the development of this market will see others emerge.

Why Then Is 3-D Printing A Threat To The Funeral Industry?  

Directly, there is no threat, actually, it’s good news! Indirectly, there is a significant threat. Directly, it could generate a new stream of income for the business. Indirectly is says, "wake up!" It’s the indirect threat that interests me and it is that which should wake up the Funeral Industry. 

You can’t have one without the other. You can’t say, “great, here is new technology that can create the business,” and not ignore the signs that say, how does this impact other aspects of our company? If digital technology is transforming the Urn industry, how are those same ideas changing other aspects of your business? Are you marketing your business digitally? Are you communicating with clients digitally?

Consumers Demands Are Increasing

A Funeral Director is a traditional business. It is a business there when you need and it unseen when you don't. But that image has changed and is chnaging. The subject of death is mainstream news. Consumers want information, they want choices, they want to access that information when they want to, and they want it digitally. 

The Answer Is A Digital Approach To All Aspects Of A Funeral Business

Take stock of all processes and methods in your funeral business. How many are digital and how many are analogue or manual? So what are you going to do? Do a digital audit. Make a list of all the points of communication with a consumer can you digitise that? Maybe start using Instant Messaging. Perhaps add online donations to your service. Why not contact one of the firms above and see if you can be the first Funeral Directors in your area to off 3-D urns? It would make a great post your Facebook Page. But maybe you need one of those as well?

If I can help by answering questions, conducting a digital audit or working with you as a consultant, please contact me.

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