The UPS Store announced it is testing 3-D printing services in-store at select locations. It will offer the services to start-ups, small businesses and retail customers, beginning in the San Diego area with locations in additional cities across the United States in the near future.
A recent poll of small business owners conducted by the company showed high interest in trying the services, particularly among those needing to create prototypes, artistic renderings or promotional materials.
"Start-ups, entrepreneurs and small business owners may not have the capital to purchase a 3-D printer on their own, but they may have a need to show prototypes to their current and potential customers," said Michelle Van Slyke, vice president of marketing and small business solutions at The UPS Store.
The company is testing the Stratasys uPrint SE Plus printer to produce items like engineering parts, functional prototypes, acting props, architectural models and fixtures for cameras, lights and cables.
Ed Morris, director of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Initiative (NAMII)NAMII, told MH&L in a recent article that this kind of initiative can have a major impact on logistics best practices.
"In terms of impact on inventory and logistics," he said, "you can print on demand. You don't have to have the finished product stacked on shelves or stacked in warehouses anymore. Whenever you need a product, you just make it. And that collapses the supply chain down to its simplest parts, adding new efficiencies to the system."