Staples to Offer In-Store 3-D Printing Service
December 3, 2012 9:37 AM
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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.
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12/3/2012 10:36:12 AM
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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