Soon, you'll be able to print 3D objects at the local stationary and office supply store and get them delivered to your doorstep. Staples, the well-known megastore for all things office-related, is about to float out a new service called ‘Staples Easy 3D’
Staples Easy 3D allows customers to upload their designs to Staples' website, then pick up the printed objects at their closest Staples store, or have them shipped to an address. That means you can now print 3D objects just like you would your passport photographs.
Iris can print objects like this half of an orange (Image credit: Mcor Technologies)
The project was announced at Euromold 2012 by 3-D printer manufacturer Mcor Technologies, Stapless partner in this endeavour. The store will be using Mcor-provided Iris printers, which employ a unique method to generate 3D objects, for the service.
Iris printers cuts, prints, stacks and glues together reams of paper to create any object that your 3D project demands. Reportedly, this technique allows for a high-resolution layer thickness of 100 microns, similar to that used in popular 3D printers such as the MakerBot Replicator 2. Most 3D printers can use designs created in programmes like TinkerCad to print the objects the size of a loaf of bread, or even smaller. The materials used by 3D printers are the likes of ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), the plastic that makes up Lego bricks, or PLA (polylactic acid), a bio-degradeable plastic substitute made from corn starch.
Iris also has the in-built ability to add photorealistic coloring, which other printers struggle to do. The glued paper, it is said, has a wood-like hardness. However, the stacking of the paper grain might need adjustments for certain design layouts, a common issue in most commercially available 3D printers. Mcor says the 3D objects the Iris prints can be drilled, tapped or screwed.
The move by Staples to offer 3-D printing further increases the chances of 3D printing going mainstream and becoming more accessible. Staples Easy 3D will launch in the Netherlands and Belgium in the first phase in the first quarter of 2013. The store has 10 outlets in India, but there is no information on whether this service will be touching Indian shores, but Staples did say it will be rolling out to other countries shortly after the first launch phase. The pricing for this service has not been revealed yet.