As the prices for 3D printers slowly glide within reach of the average consumer, UPS is expanding its 3D printing services to more locations across the country.
The expansion of UPS' 3D printing services has taken in 100 locations, up from the six stores that served as pilots for the program in 2013.
Tech-savvy consumers can find a serviceable 3D printer for between $500 and $1,000 right now, but prices for the much faster and more accurate printers can soar well above that range.
"There are significant differences between home 3D printers and professional 3D printers," said Daniel Remba, small business technology leader at The UPS Store. "Many of the challenging and time-consuming steps used to prepare a simpler printer are fully automated on the uPrint SE Plus, leading to added precision and reliability, higher print quality and a success rate that is unmatched by a home printer."
UPS' expansion of its 3D printing services continues the shipping service's partnership with Stratasys, a manufacturer of 3D printers that merged with contemporary Object and was absorbed by Markerbot Industries.
UPS and Stratasys are celebrating the expansion of the courier's 3D printing services by kicking off the first-ever 3D printing week, scheduled to take place Sept. 22-26. The pair are also hosting a Twitter chat "How 3D print can help your small business," in an effort to educate small businesses on how 3D printing can drive growth.
"We are committed to offering small business owners, entrepreneurs and consumers high-tech solutions in order to assist with all of their business needs," said Michelle Van Slyke, vice president of marketing and sales at The UPS Store. "We launched the pilot to evaluate if there was demand for 3D print and we're excited to be announcing an expansion, giving even more small business owners access to high-quality, professional 3D printing. We look forward to being a part of the future of the 3D printing industry."
For consumers who have a good drive between their homes and a UPS store with 3D printing, Dremel just released its $999 Dremel 3D Idea Builder with serious hobbyists in mind. Dremel has partnered with Autodesk, developers of the AutoCAD computer-aided design software, to offer customers a regular stream of schematics for 3D-printed objects.
Today "makers are using Dremel tools to fine-tune and fix their 3D-printed creations and have been asking us to introduce a 3D printer," said John Kavanagh, president of Dremel. "We're proud to offer them the Idea Builder and we can't wait to watch them build what's next."