Product placement is the ultimate frontier of marketing and arguably one of the most effective. We’ve seen 3D printers in several Hollywood productions already however most of the times it was in scenes that specifically focused on 3D printing and sometimes on 3D printer brand building. Other times (like in Grey’s Anatomy or in the recent Westworld) we’ve seen non-specific bioprinters working to produce organs and even entire humans.
The presence of a Form 1 3D printer by Formlabs in Episode 14 of the Limitless TV series seemed s0mewhat stranger since the 3D printer was just sitting on a table, for a very brief moment, during an episode that had pretty much nothing to do with 3D printing, other than, indirectly, for the presence of some humanlike robotic heads which may – or may not – have been 3D printed.
Furthermore anyone who is not familiar with 3D printers – and specifically with this (now legacy) 3D printer – would never have noticed it. It should be said that the episode does take place within an advanced projects division of the FBI, so a 3D printer should feel right at home.
One possible reason is that the 3D printer was not placed there on purpose at all, it may just have been used to make some useful parts for the stage and it just casually ended up in the shooting. That, paradoxically, would be even better news for the industry than if it was a case of paid for product placement.
It all became clear a few episodes later, when two Form1 and a MakerBot desktop 3D printer were clearly shown in the lab of a fictional bioprinting research firm, in an episode focusing specifically on organ bioprinting. The authors of the show not only seem to have a fascination and interest for 3D printing but they also demonstrated quite an in-depth knowledge of the status of the industry – or at least some of its most consumer centric applications (namely desktop 3D printing and bio printing).
The truth is that we are more and more becoming aware that 3D printing is the future and, while its present in industrial manufacturing may not be considered fun enough to be on TV, it will be harder and harder for any scientific and science fictional show to ignore it.