Staples goes live with online 3D printing platform for businesses

US-based office supplies retailer Staples has upped its 3D printing offering, with the launch of a new platform for businesses.

The new web portal, which went live on this week, allows small businesses and consumers to upload their own 3D designs or make a selection from a curated assortment of models. It also features a responsive, interactive 3D viewer so users can preview their creation before it is printed.

Staples has offered 3D printing as a service in its retail locations and through its Copy & Print sales teams since last year, but the new online platform has been designed to make it easier for customers to create a prototype from their own homes.

The platform is powered by Sculpteo, which sees Staples' adoption of the technology as "an entry point" in terms of consumers and businesses experiencing the benefits of 3D printing.

Behzad Soltani, vice president of services, eCommerce for Staples, said: "This is a great addition for our business customers that are looking for an easy way to prototype with quick turnaround time, and at an affordable price.

"The platform allows beginners to get a taste and try 3D printing by selecting one of our existing models and making it their own through our customisation options."

According to a recently published report from market research group IDTechEx, dubbed '3D Printing 2015-2025: Technologies, Markets, Players', the 3D printing industry is set to grow from $1 billion in 2012 to $20 billion in 2025 due to improvements in existing printing technologies and the development of completely new tech.

In terms of its impact on the retail sector, companies are starting to trial in-store services to engage with their consumers. Aside from Staples' practical offering of 3D printing services, Asda in the UK and Auchan in France are among the retailers to have given shoppers an opportunity to design their own products within their stores – primarily centred around developing personalised figurines.

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