Even as 3D printing becomes more accessible to the general public, many people still regard it as a mystery. The majority of people I know outside of the tech world don’t own 3D printers, and many of them wouldn’t know where to find one, so the idea of 3D printing something wouldn’t necessarily ever occur to them. Many of these same people, however, could greatly benefit from access to a 3D printer on occasion, for both professional and personal needs. Mention a FabLab or a 3D Hub, however, and many people will respond with a blank stare. Facilities like these are fantastic, but they’re known primarily to people who already have some familiarity with the 3D printing world.
If you tell the average person that they can 3D print something at The UPS Store, however, I suspect they’ll be much more likely to check it out, simply because it’s familiar and easily accessible. That’s what UPS was banking on when they rolled out their 3D printing service, which has been incredibly successful so far. There are still limitations, however, particularly for those who have no 3D printing or modeling experience whatsoever. But one UPS Store is taking their services a step further to accommodate even the greenest novices. Store #0428 in Tucson, Arizona has partnered with talk3D to allow customers to create their 3D models with help from professionals online.
Last year, Create Labs Inc. introduced talk3D, a cloud-based platform intended to make it easier for 3D designers to work with their clients and network with other designers. While the software was developed with designers in mind, it’s also a great service for those who want to use 3D printing technology but have zero experience with 3D modeling or design. Now customers interested in ordering a 3D printed part from UPS don’t have to come up with a model on their own before ordering – they don’t even have to go to the store itself.
How it works: the UPS Store in Tucson has created a portal on their website. Users create an account, click on “new project,” and then upload a brief description plus a sketch or image of what they want to 3D print. A 3D designer will assess the project and get back to the customer with a quote; once the quote is agreed upon, the customer pays through the PayPal service Braintree, and the designer creates and uploads an STL file based on the sketch. The customer can view multiple model files and request changes if needed; once satisfied, the item is 3D printed at The UPS Store and can either be picked up by the customer or shipped.
The service looks to be extremely user-friendly, with interactive tools that allow the customer to tweak or highlight parts of his or her design, and to track any changes or edits made by the designer. The option to have the part shipped means that one need not be a resident of Tucson to take advantage of the service, but I suspect that if it catches on, it won’t be long before other locations of The UPS Store begin offering it as well. talk3D, which is still in beta, should also greatly benefit by partnering with one of the biggest shipping corporations in the world – once they fully launch, their name will likely already be well known. Discuss in the talk3D & UPS Store 3D Printing forum over at 3DPB.com.[Source/Image: Medium.com]