As often as we talk about additive manufacturing here at Digital Manufacturing Report, you might think that the service is available everywhere from manufacturing plants to convenience stores.
Although the technology has taken off in recent years, the fact remains that 3D printing is still largely unavailable to the public.
But due to a new partnership between office supply giant, Staples and 3D printer manufacturer, Mcor, that may begin to change.
3D printers in the home may still be a long ways off. "Until that time, consumers will look to service bureaus," said Mcor Technologies co-founder and CEO Dr. Conor MacCormack.
Using Mcor's IRIS printer, Staples customers can, in early 2013, upload their designs to the Staples website, then pick up their printed models at their local Staples, or simply have it shipped to their homes.
The IRIS touts the highest color capability and lowest operating cost of commercial-class 3D printers, making it the ideal machine for the job. Unlike other systems, the IRIS uses ordinary A4 letter sized paper as a build material, which is ideal for most consumers.
Wouter Van Dijk, president of the Staples Printing Systems Division in Europe expects customers with all sorts of designs – from prototypes to art projects – will soon take advantage of Stapes' new service.
Printing at 506dpi, the IRIS will also be ideal for architectural designs, maps, medical models, and even replica weapons. However, with a height maximum of six inches, not every design will be appropriate for the Staples Easy 3D service.
Following the announcement of Easy 3D at the Euromold 2012 conference, Staples stated that the service will eventually be offered in other countries, but has not specified when it might arrive in the US. Belgium and the Netherlands are the first European countries where the platform will be available.
Regardless of its entry into American stores, this is now the broadest adoption of retail 3D printing to date.
Unfortunately, this release comes just after the holiday season, so design enthusiasts may have to wait another year before they see personalized IRIS-printed models under the tree.
Full story at McorTechnologies