Students looking to print papers, businesses that want to print mailers, pet owners who need to make “LOST” fliers, and more all use UPS to cheaply get work done. After all, original printer manufacturers’ ink cartridges can be pretty expensive, with alternatives not being much cheaper.
But thanks to a new offer, people looking to print more than just paper documents will start heading there, soon.
On September 22, UPS announced plans to become the first national retailer to offer 3-D printing services, saying that it would bring in-store 3-D printers to nearly 100 locations across the United States.
“We are committed to offering small business owners, entrepreneurs and consumers high-tech solutions in order to assist with all of their business needs,” said the UPS Store’s vice president of marketing and sales, Michelle Van Slyke.
UPS’s new system will allow customers to submit their own designs for objects, which will then be printed on a professional-quality, Stratasys 3-D printer. The new program will allow customers to make product prototypes and engineering parts, as well as architectural models.
Prices will vary depending on the products’ complexities. An iPhone case might cost about $60 to print, while a replica femur could cost about $325. Although UPS won’t be able to write the design files needed to print a specific, custom object (like a prototype, for example), the company can put customers in contact with third-party professionals who can do so for an hourly rate.
Simple objects generally take about four or five hours to print. Naturally, the more complex an item is, the longer it can take. Some objects may even take several days to print.
The pilot program first began last year at six different locations. UPS reported that those stores “saw demand for 3-D print continuing to increase across a broad spectrum of customers.”