Staples (NASDAQ: SPLS) on Thursday launched a test that offers 3D printing services in two stores. The office supplier has partnered with 3D Systems, a provider of 3D content-to-print solutions, to offer the service in New York and Los Angeles.
Staples has installed 3D printing experience centers in the two store locations where shoppers and businesses can create personalized products and use 3D printing hardware. Customers can also bring in their own 3D print-ready files to have them printed. The New York location has seven printers that can make objects in six different materials. Staples will also outsource the printing to 3D Systems for larger, more complex orders.
This is Staples' first rollout of 3D printing in the U.S. Staples has already been offering 3D printing services called "Staples Easy 3D" in Europe. The service first launched in the Netherlands and Belgium in early 2013.
Pricing for the 3D services varies widely, with some objects costing as little as a few dollars while others can run into the thousands. 3D printing can be useful for just about anyone, but it has been particularly useful for creatives, such as architects and jewelry makers, who can create 3D prototypes or even use the service to manufacture their products.
Staples was the first major U.S. retailer to offer 3D printers following last year's launch of 3D Systems' $1,300 Cube in select stores and online. The chain has since rolled out additional 3D printing hardware and accessories in a limited number of stores and expanded its overall product selection.
3D printing offers a lot of promise for retailers across all product categories. Last year, Amazon began selling 3D printers and in March partnered with 3DLT, an online retailer that specializes in 3D printing, to offer 3D-printed objects through a new pilot program.
-See this Bloomberg Businessweek article
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