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UPS Stores announced Wednesday that it will start offering 3D printing services in a select number of its retail stores, making it the first national U.S. retailer to do so. The first store is in San Diego. The company plans to offer the service in a Washington D.C. store next week. There are plans to offer the service at four more stores, but those haven’t been determined yet, says Brandon Olson, public relations supervisor for UPS Stores.

The move by UPS is part of a test to see how the service is received by customers and what the right price points are. UPS’s decision follows a survey it conducted of small business owners to gauge their interest in the service. Olson said the survey found a “strong response and desire to use the service.”

In a statement, Michelle Van Slyke, vice president of marketing and small business solutions at The UPS Store, said: “Start-ups, entrepreneurs and small business owners may not have the capital to purchase a 3D printer on their own, but they may have a need to show prototypes to their current and potential customers. By offering 3D printing capabilities in-center, we’re able to help further our small business customers’ opportunities for success.

Here’s a video UPS put up about the announcement:

UPS is using the Stratasys uPrint SE Plus printer for the test. According to Stratasys, the uPrint SE Plus 3D printer prints in nine colors and uses fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology “to build in real ABS plus thermoplastic, creating models and functional prototypes that are durable, stable and pinpoint accurate.” The printer sells for $20,900.

Olson said UPS will also offer design services to help customers translate ideas into printable design files.

What do you think of the news? Have we entered the era of the corner 3D printing shop? How long until Kinko’s gets into the act?  If service grows, would it impact your decision to buy a 3D printer?

Stett Holbrook

Stett Holbrook is editor of the Bohemian, an alternative weekly in Santa Rosa, California. He is a former senior editor at Maker Media.

He is also the co-creator of Food Forward, a documentary TV series for PBS about the innovators and pioneers changing our food system.


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