In an earlier, more simpler time when color printing was costly (and when people still printed things out), many consumers and small businesses used Staples and other office supply stores to fulfill their printing and copying needs. Can they do the same for 3D printing? Staples is willing to find out by dipping its toe into the 3D-printed waters with a pair of in-store tests.
The retailer announced today that it has partnered with 3D Systems to launch pilot printing services at one store on 5th Ave. in Manhattan and another on Wilshire Blvd. in L.A.’s Studio City neighborhood.In addition to allowing customers to print 3D-ready files, the stores will feature an “immersive 3D printing experience center” where customers can try their hand at creating 3-dimensional items of their own. This includes a photo booth that can capture data to create 3D figurines of themselves.
Since it’s still a developing technology, there will be a 3D Systems employee working at both stores to walk people through the process, and we assume to unplug and plug back in the machines when they start acting up.
Staples recently got into the business of selling 3D printers to retail customers, so the store sees this pilot program as a good way to introduce consumers to the world of 3D printing, presumably in the hope that they will ultimately spend their money on it.
“The test with 3D Systems will help us learn about our customers’ needs for a local 3D printing service, and how Staples can help them make more happen for their business through 3D printing,” explains Damien Leigh, senior vice president of business services for Staples, Inc.