There's now an official avalanche of 3D printing technology in the consumer space. First MCOR signed a deal to provide all Staples outlets with color-capable 3D printers. Then Cubify began supplying their Cube personal 3D printer to Staples as well. We've seen eBay introduce a 3D print category. Now, UPS joins the action by teaming with Stratasys to provide custom 3D print services at "select UPS stores".
UPS stores are commonly found in cities, both major and minor, providing a variety of shipping and other office services. The new project involves equipping some of these locations with Stratasys' uPrint SE 3D printer. The uPrint is a small, office-equipment-sized commercial 3D printer capable of producing 3D objects in strong ABS plastic. In other words, UPS will be able to print objects able to withstand a reasonable amount of physical stress. They will be mono-color and exhibit layering, but they will likely be used as prototypes rather than for decorative purposes.
This is a huge step for UPS and 3D printing in general, but we have to wonder if this is perhaps the beginning of the end for small-time 3D print service operators? Imagine a small 3D print service business that uses a uPrint. Now what will they do?
Tip to small 3D print service bureaus: start specializing or hook up with a larger community.