Print 6 comment(s) - last by theapparition.. on Dec 5 at 10:20 AM

Soon you can buy pens and print 3-D objects at the same place

3D printing is one of the more interesting technologies that came about over the last few years. With 3D printing, various materials can be used to create a three-dimensional object for rapid prototyping and other needs. While there are some 3D printers available that can be used in the home or office, the technology is still very expensive putting it out of the reach of most consumers.

However, office-supply retailer Staples has announced that it will be launching a new 3D printing service in retail stores called Staples Easy 3D. To use the service, customers will be able to upload designs to the Staples website and then pick up the printed objects at their local store. The service is very similar to the existing standard printing services that Staples already offers.

The service offered by Staples will use Iris printers 3D printers manufactured by Mcor Technologies. Rather than using lasers that heat resin like some 3D printer technologies, the Iris printers use reams of paper.

The paper is cut and printed while being stacked and glued together. The technique allows for the production of high-resolution layers at a thickness of 100 µ, which is similar to that of many 3D printers available on the commercial market. However, some advanced 3D printer technologies allow for much greater resolution all the way down to 25 µ.

One of the big benefits of using paper in the Staples system is that it allows the user to create photorealistic colored objects. According to Staples, once the paper is glued together, it has hardness similar to that of wood. The paper is so hard that the company says it can be drilled, tapped, or screwed like wood and metal can be.
The Staples Easy 3D printing service will launch in the Netherlands and Belgium in Q1 of 2013. Staples promises that the service will be rolled out to other countries, but there's no specific word on when the service might come to the U.S. at this time.

Source: CNN

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Not gonna work well
By WayneCoffee on 12/3/2012 12:52:44 PM , Rating: 3
I've seen similar technology and I was involved with similar technology before. The paper sheets are replaced by thin plastic layers. Every layer is glued, cut by a tiny blade. The whole printing process is fairly quick, and materials are very cheap comparing to other newer technologies using resins. However, the main problem is after the prototype is printed, someone needs to spend a lot of time to peel off unwanted materials layer by layer. It also depends on the complexity of the models (having undercuts, holes, etc), it can double or triple the time to peel off everything. In addition, not all consumers know how to "design for 3D prototyping". The tech staff in Staples will end up spending tons of time to fix the model so it is feasible to print. All that time wasted, accumulated will eventually break even with 3D printers with resin technology.

RE: Not gonna work well
By Shig on 12/3/2012 4:59:54 PM , Rating: 2
I thought I would have seen someone like Amazon make a play in additive manufacturing before the paper guys.

Whoever gets it right with an ecosystem to match is going to change manufacturing forever.

RE: Not gonna work well
By theapparition on 12/5/2012 10:20:43 AM , Rating: 2
Whoever gets it right with an ecosystem to match is going to change manufacturing forever.

3D printing isn't viable for manufacturing.

First off, there are tons of different types of 3D printing. Some use epoxy, others use powder. Some use paper, like the one staples is using, and others even can fuse metal.

But the results aren't production quality, both in their finish quality, but also the material durability. The plastic ones are very brittle. The metal ones are much less durable than items cast from real metal. Paper is the lowest end and basically sucks for most things. The powder ones have their place, but also must get post processed coated to ensure the surface doesn't flake off.

With all their faults, 3D printing is awesome, but really only useful for rapid prototyping. That may change in the future, but for now they can't be used for production.

Need 3D scanning too
By rrsurfer1 on 12/4/2012 12:30:37 PM , Rating: 2
I was just thinking about this the other day. I have a piece of trim in my house, it is a small ornate corner block. One piece was damaged.

It would be awesome if I could take one of those into staples, have it scanned, then a copy printed, which I could then use as a replacement.

I agree design assistance would be an issue. It could possibly be mitigated by having design rules (like PCBs) which are automatically enforced by the software.

the count down has begun
By Fanatical Meat on 12/4/2012 3:37:03 PM , Rating: 2
How long will it take someone to print a 3D Weiner or 3D boobs? Cool technology though.

Great idea...
By prazejc on 12/3/2012 10:36:12 AM , Rating: 1
While 3D Printing has been around since the 80's and isn't really all that expensive now (about the price of a TV), the DIY/Maker Movement is one of the fastest growing movements at the moment and Staples is placing itself in a great position by providing more widespread access to the movement's machine of choice.

My big question is, what software will they require/provide consumers in order to make/submit their designs? Some of the more successful implementations of 3D printers in a public setting have provided computers with AutoCAD alongside the machines as well as provided classes so anyone can come in and start making whatever they like. I guess we'll have to wait and see how Staples accomplishes this in its stateside roll out.

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