Staples expands 3-D printing with e-commerce option

In a sign that 3-D printing is entering the mainstream, Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS) will go live with an online 3-D printing platform this week, allowing consumers and small businesses to upload 3-D designs or choose from preselected models.

Using the 3-D Printing Cloud Engine from Sculpteo, Staples customers will be able to customize the designs using a variety of materials and colors, and can also add text, figures and images to their printable projects, according to a company statement. This supplements a 3-D printing service available at its copy and print department, and will make the process easier for businesses.

"This is a great addition for our business customers that are looking for an easy way to prototype with quick turnaround time, and at an affordable price," said Behzad Soltani, VP of services, e-commerce for Staples. "The platform allows beginners to get a taste and try 3-D printing by selecting one of our existing models and making it their own through our customization options."

Users that upload their own files will be able to choose from a selection of 26 accepted formats, reported. Quality is assured on the website, which says, "We will automatically repair any issues and provide an instant online quote." 

For those who prefer something already prepared, Staples offers more than 100 choices in its gallery of customizable designs, created by professional designers, according to the company website. After the designs are customized and previewed, they can be shipped to a home or office.

Staples' new offering is part of a growing trend. "With big names supporting this platform, it certainly looks like 3-D printing is taking another major stride toward the mainstream," wrote Sarah Anderson Goehrke in "Staples' growing participation in the 3-D printing space demonstrates the widening adoption of the technology among a range of users served by the retail giant."

Among other companies offering 3-D printing services are Target, UPS and Amazon. Sam's Club and Home Depot sell 3D printers.

Sculpteo is an online 3-D printing service offering on-demand printing of individual products, as well as short-run manufacturing. "We are thrilled to support Staples through our 3-D Printing Cloud Engine. This is an exciting time for 3-D printing in retail," said Clément Moreau, CEO of Sculpteo. "Staples will become an entry point for both businesses and the general public to benefit of 3-D printing, and we are proud that Sculpteo's technology will help to make that possible."

For more:
-See this Staples press release
-See this article

Related stories:
Target introduces 3-D printing for holiday items
Amazon launches pilot to test 3D-printed products
Staples opens e-commerce test lab
Staples unveils new logo & tagline, says goodbye to 'That Was Easy'
Staples opens U.S. Postal Service branches inside stores