3D business cards, also known as lenticular cards, are small, single-piece documents used for marketing that give the appearance of length, width and height. In some cases, the cards also create the illusion of movement. These cards are desirable for businesspeople because the cards stand out so well compared to traditional ones, but they are much more expensive and require a completely different printing process. Broadly, the term also can refer to cards that can be folded or otherwise manipulated into an image or shape that has three dimensions, or which naturally has three dimensions due to the medium on which images or text is placed.
Traditional business cards may contain multiple images or text, but the images or text appear in 2D, having only length and width. The card looks the same no matter the angle at which someone views it. With a 3D lenticular card, the appearance of the card changes depending on the angle. A minimum of two images or text bases is required to make this work.
Even though a person needs at least two images or texts to create 3D business cards, there are no limits to what a person might choose. Image and text choices usually depend on the message the business wants to send. As companies evolve and have different marketing needs, images and texts may become more or less desirable for use.
To create 3D business cards, the first step is to collect the images or other graphics for inclusion. Depending on the effect a person wants, as many as 30 separate images can be used. With this many images, the effect can be similar to an extremely short video. Following collection, the images and other graphics are flattened to individual frame files. The individual files then are put together digitally, after which they can be printed on the back smooth side of a lens or a substrate such as paper that can be laminated to a lens.
The more-complex process of printing creates a visually-impressive tool businesspeople can distribute. This comes with a literal price, however, as lenticular 3D business cards are much more expensive than traditional cards. Companies that want to use lenticular printing for their employees' cards have to decide whether the cards can pay for themselves through the sales they might generate. Small companies often cannot afford these types of cards, with the irony being that small companies typically are the ones who are most in need of a marketing tool that can set them apart from competitors.
Similar to traditional 2D cards, companies that offer printing for 3D business cards often require that a customer purchase a minimum number of cards. Lots in increments of 50 or 100 are most common. Some companies provide a discount once a person reaches set number of cards in an order. Having a minimum order amount means that the printer can offset most of the cost of producing the card.
In regard to non-lenticular 3D business cards, there are three major types. The first type is the pop-out kind, which allows recipients to fold up portions of the card to create an image or words. The second type involves paper or card stock that is manipulated into a specific shape that represents the company, such as a cell phone for a mobile service representative or a lip gloss for a beautician. The third type uses alternative media for communication, such as a clothespin for a clothes cleaning company. This type of 3D card isn't truly a business card at all and can be much more difficult to produce, but is included in the card category because it serves the same purpose.