In a blockbuster announcement, Mcor, the makers of the IRIS color 3D printing system based on plain old paper, say they've struck a huge deal with print services giant Staples to supply 3D printing equipment for their numerous print and copy centers.
This will obviously take a while to implement, so Staples Printing Division is starting the process by rolling it out in Belgium and the Netherlands in Q1 2013 and then "will be rolled out quickly to other countries" according to Staples.
How does it work? Those with printable 3D models can merely upload them to Staples' web site, where they will be transformed into full color 3D objects with Mcor's new IRIS paper-based 3D printers. Printed models will be sent to your local Staples or directly to your address. It's not entirely clear from the announcement, but we suspect the 3D printers will not be located initially in all Staples print shops, but instead centralized in some efficient fashion. Nevertheless, we also suspect the long-term intention is indeed to equip every Staples print center with this 3D printing equipment.
The implications of this move are truly enormous, as it will go a very long way to opening up 3D printing for all. Staples is a massive brand with an astonishing capacity for advertising compared to any 3D printing company. Soon people will receive newspaper flyers explaining the new 3D print service. Perhaps we'll even see discount starter promotions. In any case, many more people will know about 3D printing as a result of this deal.
One issue facing Staples will be the influx of customers attempting to 3D print models that are in fact, unprintable. Staples and MCOR should develop some process or filter that ensures the success rate of printing is high, otherwise the service could be in jeopardy.
Why Staples? It's obvious when you think about it: the MCOR IRIS is a PAPER device. Staples Printing Division is a PAPER company. It's a totally natural fit. Staples staff are already very familiar with paper handling, which is really how you operate an IRIS. In fact, we strongly suspect Staples receives a decent volume discount on their paper purchases, making the production of 3D objects from paper even more economical.
We've all had previous thoughts or written about the "Kinko's" model of 3D printing. This is exactly that. Except it's not Kinko's.
It's Staples. And it's now.