Have you ever had a product that you absolutely loved but you had to get rid of it because of the fact that the manufacturer was no longer creating replacement parts for it? Have you ever loved a product but wished that you could make a few modification to it in order for it to better suit your needs or match your home’s decor? Surely all of us have run into at least one of these problems in the past. Today, Lowe’s has moved in a direction to help solve these common issues, with the introduction of 3D printing and 3D scanning as the solution. Through a partnership with Authentise, the company will begin offering some of their customers this convenience inherent within 3D technology
“Today, in partnership with Lowe’s Innovation Labs, the disruptive innovation hub of Lowe’s Companies, Inc, we are introducing in-store and online 3D printing and scanning services to provide homeowners a simple, fun experience designing and producing hard-to-find replacement parts and unique décor items,” Karla Lopez, Co-founder of Authentise tells 3DPrint.com. “Items can be printed in-store in plastic, or ordered in materials ranging from metal to ceramic for shipment direct to the customer. A dedicated 3D print and design specialist will assist customers in the store throughout the process and facilitate the pickup of printed items.”
This service begins today at the Orchard Supply Hardware store in Mountain View, California and online at Osh.com. It will allow customers to customize everything from shape, color, and material used for products such as address plates, door handles, light switches and cabinet knobs. Customers will also have the option of scanning in their own items that they bring from home, in order to recreate out-of-production pieces that are unable to be found elsewhere.
“The home is very personal and 3D printing gives homeowners unprecedented access to build items that reflect their individuality,” explained Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs. “Until now, it’s been hard for the average consumer to benefit from this technology because of the cost and complexity, so we are bringing customers an approachable and affordable customization experience.”
Sure, 3D printing is an amazing technology, but very few people actually want to purchase their own printers and learn the complicated tasks that go along with modeling and printing objects. On top of this, desktop 3D printers are only capable of printing in plastic and plastic composite materials, oftentimes limiting users in what they can fabricate. With this new partnership, 3D printing may soon be coming to the masses in a way that makes the process very simple and affordable for just about anyone to use. Lowe’s plans to offer the capability of printing objects in plastic materials within their store, while also allowing customers to order products to be printed in other materials such as metals and ceramics, and then have those products shipped directly to their front doors. For those individuals unfamiliar with 3D design, 3D scanning, and 3D printing, there will be dedicated 3D print and design specialists on hand to assist.
“3D printing and scanning are changing the way we produce, deliver and interact with objects,” explained Andre Wegner, CEO of Authentise. “We are delighted to have helped Lowe’s create a solution that makes these changes relevant to its customers, while building a scalable platform to support future demand.”
The partnership with Authentise allows Lowe’s to distribute 3D printable files in a secure and safe manner, not having to focus on IP issues or other legal problems that can arise from individuals stealing design files for products. This partnership is also the second initiative developed with the help of Lowe’s Innovation Labs’ working relationship with Singularity University and SU Labs.
“Our partnership with Authentise enabled us to rapidly develop 3D solutions in a way that is core to home improvement and positions Lowe’s at the forefront of the digital manufacturing revolution,” Nel explained.
This is a very interesting development, one that if successful in Mountain View, could quickly become a service offered at Lowe’s locations world wide. What do you think about this initiative? Will it bring mass customization to more customers? Discuss in the Lowe’s Introduces In-store 3D Printing forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video below.