Staples will soon be offering a 3-D printing service. Tagged as “Staples Easy 3D”, this new service will let customers upload their projects or designs to Staples’ website and can be printed at any local supply Staples store. Staples can also shipped the printed product to a business or home similar to the existing document- and photo- printing service the store is currently offering.
The new service was announced on December during the Euromold 2012 by the 3-D printer maker Mcor Technologies, a current partner of Staples in providing new Iris printers for the said project.
Mcor’s Iris printers use a novel idea in generating objects while using reams of paper that are cut and printed while being glued and stacked together. This printing technique gives high-resolution layer thickness of about 100 microns, more or less similar to the output of MakerBot Replicator 2, although it is not as fine as the 25-micron printout of the Form 1.
Iris printers has an added capability to bring more photorealistic coloring–a feature not yet available for common plastic printers today. The glued paper is supposed to have wood-like hardness. However, the manner that layered paper are arranged needs special consideration for particular design layouts, which can affect other types of upcoming 3-D printers.
Mcor Technologies claim that the finished product can be tapped, drilled, or screwed although most of its material properties are still not clear if we compare it to conventional materials like steel or wood.
The move by Staples, a huge and established corporation, to provide the new printing service only reinforces the legitimization of the adoption of the fast-growing industry. While similar services are now being offered by other companies like Sculpteo and Shapeways, Staples’ move is the first for the chain retailers kind.
The printing service will be launched in Belgium and the Netherlands during the first quarter of 2013. it will be offered in other countries following that. There are still no indications when the 3D printing service will be available in the United States though.