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The UPS Store Will 3-D Print Stuff For You 144

mpicpp writes with news that UPS will be expanding their 3D printing services. UPS announced plans Monday to bring in-store 3-D-printing services to nearly 100 stores across the country, billing itself as the first national retailer to do so. With the UPS system, customers can submit their own designs for objects like product prototypes, engineering parts and architectural models that are then printed on a professional-quality 3-D printer made by Stratasys. Prices vary depending on the complexity of the object; an iPhone case would be about $60, while a replica femur bone would be around $325. UPS can also connect customers with outside professionals who charge an hourly rate to help produce a design file for the printer. It generally takes about four or five hours to print a simple object, with more complex items taking a day or more. The program started as a pilot at six locations last year, and UPS says those stores "saw demand for 3-D print continuing to increase across a broad spectrum of customers."
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The UPS Store Will 3-D Print Stuff For You

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  • Competition (Score:4, Funny)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Monday September 22, 2014 @06:23PM (#47969279) Journal

    Will they print me up a FedEx truck?

  • So in the future ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BarbaraHudson ( 3785311 ) <barbarahudson@gma i l .com> on Monday September 22, 2014 @06:23PM (#47969281) Journal
    Instead of ordering stuff from a supplier and having UPS ship it half-way across the country, they'll just make it at their nearest location and drop it off. Give it 20 years - this is the way of the future.
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      until people start ordering "objectionable" items.

    • by mirix ( 1649853 ) on Monday September 22, 2014 @06:34PM (#47969393)

      Not really, injection molding is always going to be cheaper for mass produced stuff, shipping inclusive.

      Or do you think there will be a day you can 3D print a plastic chair that can support a person for $5?

      • by Anonymous Coward
        No one is suggesting that this service be used to mass produce anything. If you place an order with UPS to print 70,000 lawn chairs, your order will be rejected.
        • You missed the point completely. You can either 3D print a chair for $200+ or go to the nearest hardware store and buy one for $5. The reason being that the chair bought from the hardware store was mass produced using injection moulding and shipped close to you for minimal costs.

      • by Macrat ( 638047 )

        Or do you think there will be a day you can 3D print a plastic chair that can support a person for $5?

        Do you think 3D printing will always be limited to weak materials?

        • I think you're missing the point. Mirix was trying to say that injection molding will always be cheaper, for mass production ($5 being roughly the cost of a mass-produced, injection-molded chair). 3D printing will never match the per-unit price of mass-producing items, but it *will* (and has already started to) make the production of small-run items and prototypes much, much cheaper.
          • by Rob Bos ( 3399 )

            Where the cost of shipping is prohibitive - the Canadian Arctic, say - mass production might not even come out ahead.

            • True. In cases where mass shipment isn't also feasible, the economy of scale hits a bottleneck.
              • by Rei ( 128717 )

                It's not just places like the Canadian arctic. Here in Iceland, if I want to import anything, after shipping and import taxes, I have to wait several weeks and pay usually over double the purchase price. 3d printing most definitely has its uses, if it can get mainstreamed.

      • by BarbaraHudson ( 3785311 ) <barbarahudson@gma i l .com> on Monday September 22, 2014 @07:14PM (#47969707) Journal

        It's already being used for items like old tail-lights, that cost too much from suppliers because of scarcity.

        As with everything, economies of scale and increases in technology will bring the per-unit cost down.

        When a body shop has the choice between ordering a whole assembly for $250, or printing up just the cracked lens that the dealer won't sell them separately for $50, they'll print to order.

        Replacement parts, where the OEM won't sell just the tiny plastic gear (you need to buy the whole fuser unit) are a good example. Switch housing got cracked? Sorry, we don't sell just that ... No, we only sell that in mininum quantities of 4. New knob? Sorry, you have to buy the whole timer.

        This will allow for a lot of "unbundling", and could result in a revival of do-it-yourself repairs. And less waste.

        • > As with everything, economies of scale and increases in technology will bring the per-unit cost down

          "Economies of scale" refers to the various reasons that it's cheaper to do something 10,000 times, assembly line fashion, rather than one piece at a time. In other words, the exact OPPOSITE of what's being talked about here.

          It may be useful where , due to the inefficiency of handling an order for one 20 cent knob, the manufacturer doesn't sell parts directly to consumers. The knob that costs 20 cents

          • Actually, it IS about economies of scale, even thought the scale is smaller. The more 3d printers are manufactured, the lower the cost and the more features (bang for the buck) that scaling out any product brings.

            The same for the end user. To use the patio chair example, if it costs me 3 times as much to print out a replacement chair as the single unit cost at the store, I'll still opt for printing if the store will only sell me in lots of 6. Right now, it will cost 100 times as much, but that's going t

            • > The more 3d printers are manufactured, the lower the cost and the more features (bang for the buck) that scaling out any product brings.

              A 3D printer in a retail setting, where it's kept fairly busy, will use a few thousand dollars worth of filament and electricity every month. A retail location needs to charge the same amount again to cover labor costs (a $9.50 employee costs $20/hour with taxes, healthcare, workers comp, etc.) Then roughly the same amount again for rent of the floor space, signage

            • I had a dishwasher, a brand that touted itself for quality. The door latch kept breaking. The part was only $5, but shipping was $15, so I ordered them in quantity.

              6 months later, they were all broken.

              With a 3-d printer. I could have made them on demand, and saved shipping costs and the part was small enough, it might have even printed for $5.

              Better yet, knowing the weak spots in the latch, I probably could have re-designed the latch with proper reinforcement at the failure point.

              • by Rei ( 128717 )

                At least you could get the spare part. I have an electrolux refrigerator in Iceland which I bought used; one of the food compartment lids broke a week ago. Electrolux doesn't have a service center in Iceland and none of the other ones overseas will export to me, they said "just find someone local who sells electrolux refrigerators and order through them", except that none of the local retailers have been willing to.

                And at least it's an Electrolux. What if it was a company that had gone out of business?

                I wan

                • Obviously, it has been classified as a Munition by the US Government, and therefore parts are interdicted.

                  Oh wait, HQ in Sweden? Hmmm. The Assange Effect strikes again!

                  I understand your signature now. Ye yorn hath been too long exiled from English as well!

          • Have them print up a 3D printer for you, then after the purchase your only costs are material and energy, which could easily be less than even the scale costs + profit + shipping of a factory producer.

            Conclusion: China's cheap labor advantage will become irrelevant. Manufacturing becomes decentralized and local, jobs decrease, leisure time increases, and (with a basic income) we are closer to utopia.

            • China's cheap labor advantage has aleady been becoming irrelevant. The workers have been demanding raises, robots cost about the same whichever country you're located in, 3D printing is just another nail in the coffin.

              The "basic income" part is what's becoming problematic.

        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          It's already being used for items like old tail-lights, that cost too much from suppliers because of scarcity.

          As with everything, economies of scale and increases in technology will bring the per-unit cost down.

          When a body shop has the choice between ordering a whole assembly for $250, or printing up just the cracked lens that the dealer won't sell them separately for $50, they'll print to order.

          Replacement parts, where the OEM won't sell just the tiny plastic gear (you need to buy the whole fuser unit) are

          • by Rei ( 128717 )

            The question becomes, how to get manufacturer buy in?

            For starters, I think we need a certification mark for products, at the very least, to indicate that their parts are 3d printable (see above). But beyond that, I'm not really sure how to get manufacturer buy-in.

      • Why not?

        Modern 3d printers are dot matrix style. Slow moving heads with poor resolution dependent on head alignment. Using photosensitive polymer resins it should be possible to make a head similar to a laser printer which can remove an entire axis of motion and substantially increase performance. Add ejection of color dye as well and it's even better. Printing 3d doesn't have to be expensive as the materials become more readily available and printers become more evolved.
        • That is roughly how the Stratisys (named in the article) works.
        • by Rei ( 128717 )

          You know, I was just thinking, wouldn't it be possible to make a rapid 3d *moulder*, for those bulk parts that you don't require as much precision on (aka, chair)? Picture a stretchable half-mould surface, on a large bed (maybe 50x100cm for a home edition, larger for a workshop) with a grid of little pistons on it that can change it's shape (nothing too high res, maybe one every square centimeter). Picture a second half-mould positioned just opposite, such that the two elements can close off off a 3d space.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

        I'm sure there will be a day when a basic chair can be printed for $5. Advances in material sciences and printers are required, but the demand is there and it doesn't seem like an insurmountable problem.

      • It's for replacement parts. You don't pay $50 for a new watergun that retails for $30. You buy a new $5 trigger for your broken super soaker.
  • Remind me to start a company specialising in generating 3D CAD models of custom dildos! :)

    By the way, have they figured out how to print softer, rubber-like materials yet? I have an idea of a sister company too...

    Paul B.

    • by captjc ( 453680 )

      I know it was a joke, but yes, there is a filament called Ninjaflex that is both soft and flexible and will print on most types of ABS filament printers. I probably wouldn't recommend it for sex toys but it does make a good material for bracelets and such.

    • The range of filament materials is growing rapidly, everything from stone and wood to various kinds of flexible and stretchable rubber like materials. One of the better known ones is NinjaFlex, but their suitability for "medical" use is a bit more limited

    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      iMaterialize has a material called "Rubber-like", which is a plastic called TPU 92A-1.

  • Actually, $60 for a iPhone case sounds expensive today, and perhaps it is compared to mass manufactured cases, but for a 3D printed case from a retail store, that sounds quite cheap to me.

    The price will come down over time, this has to get out there and people try it out, when more stores get it, the price will of course come down with volume (look how cheap printers have become, compared to 20 years ago).

    The big one will be Walmart. I've heard that Walmart has considered putting in a large 3D printer in the back of their stores to be able to provide custom products and expand their offerings, without having to actually carry more stuff.

    Not just for 1-off 3D items that people design, because frankly most people will suck at that. Just like having a printer doesn't make you an author, having a 3D printer doesn't make you a designer.

    But what if they had a catalog you could browse with 100,000 items in 100 different categories, and you could then put your personal touch on them by picking color, or a logo, etc...

    It won't happen in a year, but I'll be in 20 years we'll take this for granted.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Any university or public library in Halifax will 3D print for $1/hr. An iPhone case would be like $4 at most.

      This is gouging. I mean, I built a carbon fiber / steel 3D printer for under $400!

  • The web site sucks. (Score:4, Informative)

    by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Monday September 22, 2014 @06:54PM (#47969567) Homepage Journal

    I took a look at the 3D printing serves section on the UPS web site. It gives you precisely zero details on how or what to do. They claim an F.A.Q. is "What Kind of things can I 3D Print". But they don't think "What 3D file formats do you accept" is an FAQ, when it is obviously the first thing you want to know after "Is this going to bankrupt me?"

    The web site is hermetically sealed. No useful information can escape.

  • Staples (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lando ( 9348 ) <lando2+slashNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday September 22, 2014 @07:09PM (#47969665) Homepage Journal

    What happened to Staples plan to put out 3d printers in it's locations?

  • by Osgeld ( 1900440 ) on Monday September 22, 2014 @07:36PM (#47969851)

    after staples

    http://www.staples.com/sbd/cre... [staples.com]

    how about you focus less on 3d printing and not taking a week to deliver a package 2 states away when the post office doe it in 3 days for half the price, cause then I might actually USE UPS at some point

  • What model 3D printer are they using? What is the printing volume? What materials can you use? Single color or multi color?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Staples announced they would be providing this service here in the Netherlands in all their shops.

    It turns out that they are printing in some sort of "full color" paper. Nice to make a 3D model of a head in natural colors, but not appropriate to make moving parts for technical projects. And it was difficult to get the "design rules". And when I finally got those, there were rules like "no cavities".

  • a replica femur bone would be around $325

    Do a full skeleton. Most expensive Halloween lawn decoration ever? I guess my decision to simply imagine whipping up a convincing skeleton from junk I have lying around the yard and house was correct. LOL, I never follow through on any of those ideas. Last year I literally wrote "Boo" on a piece of cardboard and stuck it in a window near the door. That was my Halloween decoration. I'm that lazy and cheap when it comes to those things.

  • Just wait until you can trade 3d designs of Warhammer 40k armies and print them out assembled for a lower cost than buying them in stores. Having the ability to print D&D & pathfinder miniatures for pennies worth of plastic instead of $4-$30 retail cost will be nice. Reaper Bones may not have as long a lifespan as their lead and pewter predecessors.

  • The equipment they use is stratasys--the biggest and most reputable 3d printer company out there. They have pretty quick turn arounds (same day, provided no queue and depending on job printing time). The price is competitive (they are printing a model for me for $23, when the closest competitor had a $250 minimum). The file I sent was STL format, that's pretty much the standard for most 3d printing companies.

You had mail. Paul read it, so ask him what it said.

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