If you recall, UPS announced plans to bring 3D printing to several UPS locations last year; now, the parcel service is expanding the program to nearly 100 stores throughout the United States.
The service, which first rolled out in San Diego-area locations, was marketed toward “startups, entrepreneurs and small business owners.” According to UPS, the 3D printing service will enable companies to quickly and inexpensively create models and prototypes of items they plan to produce.
Following a six-market trial period, the decision was based on a high-demand for 3D-printing options — which is certainly in line with growth in the industry. As previously reported in Bits & Pieces, 3D printing is set to soar with analysts forecasting the industry to reach $16.2 billion by 2018 – representing an expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 45.7% from 2013 to 2018.
UPS’ 3D printing effort is a partnership between the shipping company and Stratasys, the parent company to the well-known MakerBot who first began using Atmel AVR microcontrollers in its early printers like the Replicator 2.
“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,” explained Michelle Van Slyke, VP of Marketing & Sales at The UPS Store. “We look forward to being a part of the future of the 3D printing industry.”
While the UPS did not provide a timeline for when the 3D printing project would be completed, there are currently 45 stores nationwide up and running with 3D print services. Kentucky, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania are among the states first receiving 3D printer-equipped stores, while an entire list of all other future stores can be found here.
Evident by the sheer number of up-and-coming machines in Maker Faire New York’s 3D Printing Village, the movement is gaining traction with Makers, entrepreneurs and corporate giants all hopping aboard.
In May 2013, Staples began selling 3D printers in its stores across the U.S., while the Microsoft Store also invested in 3D printing last year by expanding its MakerBot partnership to 18 locations where shoppers were able to see, demo and even purchase MakerBot 3D printers. The United States Postal Service even looked into the next-gen technology, which could potentially serve as a financial boon for the government agency. Most recently, Amazon launched a 3D printing store back in July, which offered customers the option to customize various thingamajigs like bobble head dolls and jewelry, and then have them shipped.
Evident by the growth of large companies’ presence at recent Maker Faires, this trend will only continue. Unsurprisingly, nearly 60% of enterprises have already or will soon begin using or evaluating 3D printers — a majority of which are powered by AVR XMEGA, megaAVR and SAM3X8E MCUs.