As one of the United States largest office supply chain stores Staples has been putting a lot of muscle behind 3D printing in the past year. Just last year Staples started rolling out in-store 3D printing services in most of their 2,000 store locations and this week they are ramping up those services by opening their new online 3D printing platform aimed at small businesses. Not only does this further broaden the reach of 3D printing services available to consumers, but as a service offered by a well-known brand name it will most likely prompt new users to investigate and potentially try using 3D printing services for the first time.
The new 3D printing web portal, announced last week, went live on Staples.com this week and offers customers a user-friendly interface that allows them to easily upload their 3D models for printing. The service also offers customers the option to purchase models from a curated assortment of popular designs.The web portal includes an interactive 3D viewer allowing users to preview their 3D model before sending it off to be printed. Once submitted, customers can choose to pick up their printed model at a local location or have it shipped directly to their home. Staples will continue to offer their in-store 3D printing services using the Copy & Print sales team.
“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. The platform allows beginners to get a taste and try 3D printing by selecting one of our existing models and making it their own through our customisation options,” said Staples vice president of eCommerce services Behzad Soltani.
The 3D printing services will be handled by popular 3D printing bureau Sculpteo, and Staples is probably the highest-profile retail company to incorporate their Sculpteo Cloud Engine API into their online presence. This partnership with Staples is one of several successful deals that Sculpteo has entered into this year, including a partnership with HP that allows users of their their Sprout desktop to send 3D models directly to an integrated Sculpteo app. This is all on the heels of the company receiving a significant investment of almost $6 million from a pair of high profile private equity firms in April.
“We are thrilled to support Staples through our 3D Printing Cloud Engine. This is an exciting time for 3D Printing in retail. Staples will become an entry point for both work and the general public to benefit of 3D printing, and we are proud did Sculpteo’s technology will help to make that Possible,” said Clément Moreau, CEO and co-founder of Sculpteo.
Staples isn’t the first retail business to offer in-store 3D printing services, with UK office supply chain Asda and France’s Auchan beating them to the punch, but they do seem to be the first to offer online printing options. Their partnership with Sculpteo is likely to be duplicated by other retail stores, including most notably Amazon.com.
Sculpteo, once the new kid on the block, is now growing pretty quickly and becoming a strong competitor for other well known 3D printing services bureaus like Shapeways and i.materialise. As the 3D printing industry continues to rapidly expand they seem to be setting themselves up quite nicely to end up on or near the top of the heap.
Discuss this news in the Staples / Sculpteo Forum thread on 3DPB.com.