The practical applications of 3D printing are always expanding, this time with a new service offered by Flomio, the firm that focuses on all things NFC. Now, starting at $8, you can print 3D figures with built-in NFC tags, opening up a whole new world of interactivity for your 3D-printed projects. Before I get into how well NFC complements 3D printing, let me get into what NFC is exactly.
NFC, near field communication, is a process for establishing short-range data exchange between two electronic devices (smartphones and the like) or between electronic devices and NFC tags. NFC tags are simple chips that include three basic components: memory, a radio chip and an antennae. By pressing your NFC-enabled smartphone against the tag, the data (usually some simple program) stored in the tag’s memory will be broadcast to your phone and activate whatever program’s been put onto the chip.
Flomio has previously used this technology to expedite voting registration in Florida. By embedding NFC tags into Rock the Vote advertisements, potential voters could simply press their smartphone to a Rock the Vote poster at some bus stop and it would take them to the Rock the Vote voter registration page, where they could quickly and easily become responsible members of US society. Aside from creating dynamic, interactive advertising campaigns, NFC technology can streamline your workflow and daily routine. You can purchase and program your own NFC tags so that you can, say, create a tag for your cubicle that, as your smartphone comes into contact with your tag, turns the phone to vibrate, so as to avoid bothering your coworkers.
In the case of Flomio’s new service, it’s possible to order a customized, 3D-printed object embedded with an NFC tag. The models cost $.50 per cubic centimeter, in addition to a $4.00 handling fee, the cost of the tag, and the price of shipping. And, with their service, you can print an object with a volume of up to 15 cubic centimeters.
Traditionally, NFC tags have been two-dimensional or have been embedded into boring keychains. This opens up a whole new world of interactivity for your 3D-printed designs. Whether you use Flomio’s service or try to figure out how to do so on your own, you can create 3D printed objects that have the potential to enhance your marketing strategy or your life overall. For instance, in the case of my previous post about CallingCubes, it may be possible to install NFC chips into your 3D business card that, when touched by a smartphone, brings up your personal portfolio and contact information before your client’s very eyes.
Recently, I was speaking with a friend (my fiancé’s man of honor) who wanted to incorporate technology into his jewellery and clothing making business. Having read about Flomio’s service, I suggested that he create 3D-printed jewellery embedded with NFC chips so that, when his patrons press their smartphones to some printed, plastic medallion, they’re taken to a twisted, avant garde video that completely transforms the way they view reality for the rest of their lives, making his fashion the most important the world has ever known. Hopefully, we’ll start working on that this spring.
Can you think of any other ways to incorporate NFC into your 3D-printed designs? If so, leave your ideas in the comments section below!
 Because, until I wrote this post, I thought NFC was the unsuccessful midwestern franchise Nebraska Fried Chicken.