Staples's new deal with Mcor will allow European customers to upload 3D files to a web platform and collect the finished printed products in store.
Three-dimensional printing has been touted by many as the catalyst for the next industrial revolution. In fact, Chris Anderson, the former editor in chief of Wired magazine, goes as far as to say that every home should have one in his latest book Makers: The New Industrial Revolution.
And although there is little doubt of their ability to create perfect scale models of your loved ones, jewelry, a replacement part for an old toy or even, when budget restraints apply, several Aston Martin DB5s for use in a series of pyrotechnic explosions in a James Bond film, their cost is still prohibitively expensive. At prices ranging from $3,000 US to $20,000 and well beyond, for a fully-assembled machine, not many small companies, never mind small families could afford the investment, materials and maintenance costs they currently demand (some printers can cost over $300 per kilo of printing).
However, from 2013, the technology could take a huge step closer to the mainstream with the announcement that Staples is to launch an in-house 3D printing service in its European stores.
The company has penned a deal with Mcor Technologies Ltd, to deliver a service that will be called "Staples Easy 3D" when it initially launches in Belgium and the Netherlands early in 2013, before rolling out Europe-wide during the year. It will offer low-cost, color photo-realistic 3D printed products produced from customer files uploaded over the internet, which are then collected in store.
"Customized parts, prototypes, art objects, architectural models, medical models and 3D maps are items customers need today, in a more affordable and more accessible manner. Mcor will help us to keep prices low, quality high and colour brilliant as we meet the demand," said Wouter Van Dijk, president of the Staples Printing Systems Division in Europe.