Shoppers at Staples in Europe will soon be picking up a different kind of printed product. The office supply giant plans to bring 3D printers to selected stores in Belgium and the Netherlands. Starting next year, customers can upload files online and collect in-store their finished three-dimensional objects—from architectural and medical models to product prototypes. The move may be the first step in making 3D printing widely available to the masses. Three-dimensional printing, which allows people to produce small objects (typically made of plastic or paper material) from computer code, has been hailed by many as the next great technological leap, but prohibitive costs have stalled its widespread adoption so far. The printers range in price from $3,000 to $20,000. Staples, which has partnered with a 3D printer maker called Mcor Technologies, says it plans to quickly expand its “Easy 3D” program to other countries.
Thursday, December 13, 2012