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US DIY retailer Lowe's allows customers to 3D print products

The innovation arm of US DIY retail group Lowe's has developed 3D printing and scanning services for customers to use to design and create products for their homes.

Lowe's Innovation Labs launched the service earlier this week in its Orchard Supply Hardware store in California and online at Osh.com, allowing customers to customise the colour, shape and material for products such as light switch plates, address plates, door handles and cabinet knobs.

Shoppers in the store can also scan certain items, such as out of production antique home accents, to create 3D models for printing.

The project is a result of a partnership between the retail organisation and Authentise, a company that provides secure distribution tools for 3D printing and helps companies roll out 3D printing via its Authentise Services division.

Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe's Innovation Labs, said: "The home is very personal and 3D printing gives homeowners unprecedented access to build items that reflect their individuality.

"Until now, it's been hard for the average consumer to benefit from this technology because of the cost and complexity, so we are bringing customers an approachable and affordable customisation experience."

Items can be printed in-store in plastic, or ordered in other materials such as metal and ceramic, for shipment direct to the customer. In the store there will be a dedicated 3D print and design specialist, whose job it is to assist customers throughout the process.

Retailers such as Asda in the UK and Staples in the US and Canada have also started offering 3D printing services in some of their stores.

Auchan's flagship store in Lille, France is another example of a retailer opening a 3D printing area. In December 2014 it gave its customers an opportunity to buy a range of personalised products via 3D printing.

Visitors can design and purchase objects such as 'mini-me' figurines, jewellery, trophies and medals, before ordering them to be printed.

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