Consumer service giant Staples has made a deal with Sculpteo to enable Staples customers to obtain professional quality 3D prints.
Staples has long been looking at various aspects of 3D printing, including:
Partnering with iGo3D in Europe to provide 3D printing expertise
Selling personal 3D printers in retail stores
Partnering with 3D Systems to provide print services in selected areas
Partnering with MCOR in Europe to provide color 3D print services
Note the pattern in the previous 3D printing ventures undertaken by Staples: most are in-house configurations where it was likely Staples eventually realized that 3D print services are difficult to do. Perhaps those prior experiences led Staples to the idea of engaging a professional 3D print service to do the job for them, as the professional firm would have figured out all the challenging aspects and Staples would not have to do so themselves.
Now Staples is going big time with a new Sculpteo partnership. The idea is to provide a seamless and simplified method for professional firms to request and receive 3D prints directly from Staples. In reality, Sculpteo will be behind the scenes performing the necessary printing, using their comprehensive “cloud engine” to track and manage print jobs.
This is a big deal for Staples, as the service will initially be available in the US to any customer. Previously, Staples’ 3D printing efforts were limited in some way, but now that won’t be the case, as Staples clients will be able to obtain the same extensive 3D print services as Sculpteo offers. This means they’ll be able to request color and metal prints as well as a variety of plastic options. Sculpteo’s extensive experience in developing a proper 3D print service will be instantly available to Staples clients.
Is this a big deal for Sculpteo? You bet, perhaps the biggest deal they’ve yet made. In the USA, Staples operates something like 1,500 stores in the country, meaning it has a presence anywhere. Everyone knows what Staples is. And those same customers will now be presented with 3D print service offerings, branded by Staples with an interface specifically designed to provide simplicity. The partnership should result in a huge boost to Sculpteo’s operations in the long run.
There are challenges, however. The biggest we feel would be the general lack of understanding of 3D printing by Staples’ current client base. Like other 3D printing players, Staples will have to provide a way to educate and attract people to 3D print services. But they’ve done that with other products, so why not 3D printing?
Staples: making more happen … with Sculpteo!