MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.—Mega store Staples is launching a new 3-D printing service in the Netherlands and Belgium starting in the first quarter of 2013, the firm has announced.
The office equipment retailer is trying to get a head start on the 3-D printing craze by allowing customers to print their designs in stores as an alternative to purchasing the machines. Some of the smallest 3-D printers available today cost in the region of $1,000.
The service, Staples Easy 3D, will also allow customers to upload their designs via the Staples website and then pick up their printed product from their local store when it’s ready.
Staples said it would be using Iris 3-D printers, manufactured by Mcor Technologies. That particular model uses reams of paper instead of plastics and resins to create products, with the paper cut to size, and stacked tightly together using glue in between layers. This allows for high-resolution layers at a thickness of 100 µ, which is the average quality for 3-D printing. The finished product has a consistency similar to wood and can be drilled, tapped, or screwed.
High definition 3-D printers can achieve resolutions of down to 25 µ.
As of now, there is no word about when Staples plans to roll out the service in the U.S.