There are many post offices in the world, but few are doing as much 3D printing as France’s La Poste.
Many years ago the function of a national postal service was pretty clear: pick up packages and deliver them. But that’s been changing over the past couple of decades.
Faster, more reliable and trackable package delivery by third party services have absorbed much of the parcel market, even accounting for the increase in shipping due to online sales, with its corresponding shipping requirements.
Letter delivery has virtually collapsed, with almost everyone now using electronic communication systems and leaving only legal matters and largely unwanted consumer flyers for delivery by postal services.
This has caused conniptions among global postal services, who have been scrambling to compete. Some have instituted means to provide similar services to third parties. Some have tried entirely new approaches.
And that seems to be what’s happening at La Poste.
They offer a 3D print service to the nation of France, which seems to be quite a good idea. A 3D print service typically centralizes the actual 3D printing, and then sends the printed objects to the recipients through common parcel services.
But wait, La Poste IS a parcel service, thus this arrangement makes much sense. They have the ability to inexpensively deliver 3D prints to anywhere in France.
However, their most recent bulletin was encouraging recipients to consider 3D printing a variety of household objects, such as toys or to “Equipez votre salle de bain de ces objets rigolos et utiles.” (“Equip your bathroom with these funny and useful objects.”) They even provide a small library of interesting 3D printable objects that can be ordered online.
Marketing to the consumer is perhaps not the best idea, as consumer 3D printing is not so much a thing anymore. I’m sure they will have some clients make use of the service, but perhaps it would be better if they focused it more on professional and industrial uses?
I think they do understand this to a degree: they do offer a contact form where you can enquire about their services for seemingly more professional uses (Google Translate):
Materialize a project or a prototype, test a customer reaction, mark your specifiers, build customer loyalty, innovate on your commercial tools with a 3D project. You can contact us by phone, every day from Monday to Friday, from 10h to 17h.
I’m curious to see how their venture evolves, because if it is successful, it may become a model for other national postal services around the world to take up a similar 3D printing capability.
Via La Poste