3D printing has taken the nation by storm. Whether it's printing complex three-dimensional designs or the latest controversy surrounding someone's ability to print fully-functional firearms, 3D printing is a technology trend that is growing fast. A question remains – how can someone like me, an average consumer with no technology or research purpose, take advantage of this technology without shelling out tens of thousands of dollars to buy a 3D printer?
UPS may have found the answer to that question according to a recent article by The Economist. UPS, in partnership with Stratasys, will be placing 3D printers in six of their UPS stores for public use. Think about it. You just brought home a new piece of furniture from Target or IKEA, you spend all day putting it together and when you're up to the final leg of it, you suddenly realizeâ¦ that one little plastic screw that will make or break your brand new coffee table is missing. Aside from stepping on a stray Lego piece barefoot, that missing screw is one of the most infuriating and frustrating things that have happened to you.
Normally, you would then call customer service, order a new screw to be shipped to you, and stare longingly at your almost-completed coffee table for the next two weeks while waiting for the part to arrive. In frustration you could even take the entire table apart, pack it back up and bring the entire thing back to the store to exchange it. With the innovation of 3D printers, customers will wait no longer! You can now go into your local UPS store, bring in one of the other screws or access their design database, and print out that missing washer! Now you can head home, put that freshly printed washer in place and safely prop your feet up on your new coffee table all in one afternoon.
I think UPS and Stratasys may be onto something here. Tell us how you feel about using a 3D printer at a UPS store and feel free to share your personal missing piece of the puzzle experiences in the comments below.fdecomite – flickr]