Big-box home goods chains such as Lowe’s, Home Depot and Target are great in that they allow you to find just about everything you need for a refurbishing or decorating project in one place. The problem with retail chains, though, is that you’re unlikely to find anything truly unique. No matter how unusual-looking that fancy lamp is, the reality is that hundreds of households across the country have that same lamp in their living rooms. If that doesn’t bother you, then there’s no problem – but if you want one-of-a-kind, personalized items, you’ll likely have to look elsewhere.
One of the appeals of 3D printing is its ability to create unique and personalized items that you won’t find in a typical retail chain. Lowe’s is aware of that, so the company is now offering a 3D scanning and printing service for customers to design their own customized products. Lowe’s Innovation Labs began providing in-store 3D printing services last year as a way for customers to customize items and replace out-of-production parts, but now they’re expanding the service further.
A new online platform called Lowe’s Bespok3Designs gives customers an easy way to have their designs 3D printed. Users create an account, upload their 3D files, and an in-store technician at Lowe’s will look the files over and confirm that they are ready to be printed. Customers can also shop an online collection of designs – most designed by 3DShook – that can be customized by adding textures, letters, colors and more. The designs from 3DShook, a platform we’ve covered often, promise quality and show a partnership sure to excite anyone familiar with the 3D printing space.
“We’re proud to have been selected by Lowe’s for the content part of this project. 3DShook works hard to stand out in design standards for 3D printing and it was exciting to be part of such an important evolution of our industry. It was challenging to design products that would not only look great 3D printed on consumer grade printers, but also be sold to customers who don’t necessarily care how they were made, and rather expect a functioning product that does what it was meant to,” Hector Berrebi, COO and founder of 3DShook, told 3DPrint.com about his company’s involvement in this process. He further told us that his team “designed well over 100 parts for this collection (if you count all letter sets and hangers which were quite a bigger challenge than they seem), under much stricter guidelines since they are sold to public who expects a full functioning product from Lowe’s.”
“It has been extremely exciting to work with Digital Forming because they just ‘get it,’” said Jasmine Evans, Senior Producer at Lowe’s Innovation Labs. “They have subject matter expertise around customization and the overall customer experience.”
Customers can also take advantage of 3D scanning services at Lowe’s flagship store in Chelsea, New York. Bring in an item you’d like to reproduce – a broken part, an antique, etc. – and a technician will help you to create a 3D file in person. Those files, as well as any files uploaded to your Bespok3Designs account, can then be 3D printed and shipped to you by Voodoo Manufacturing or ExOne, which have also partnered with Lowe’s. Several different material options are available, including both plastics and metals.
“Enabling self-expression, leads to a deeper and more intimate connection with brands, which is the basis for emotional branding,” said David Akka, CEO at Digital Forming. “We are proud to provide solutions that support co-designing of products, encouraging more brand engagement and providing the basis for lasting customer loyalty.”
It’s a smart move by Lowe’s. As manufacturing becomes more democratized, putting creation into the hands of individuals, traditional retail outlets need to get creative to avoid falling behind. Lowe’s has shown themselves to be an especially forward-thinking corporation by offering 3D design, printing, and customization services; it won’t be surprising if other major retail corporations begin to follow suit before long. Discuss further in the 3D Printing at Lowe’s forum over at 3DPB.com.