SAN DIEGO – The UPS Store franchise in Clairemont Mesa is the first in the country to start offering 3D in-store printing services.
The San Diego-based company is testing their pilot program on their home turf first, followed by Washington and four other locations across the country.
UPS Store franchisee Burke Jones said he is excited his store is the first to carry the technology. Since July 31, 2013, “big companies, small companies, and companies that aren’t even companies yet, have been coming in and calling,” said Jones.
They are testing the Stratasys uPrint SE Plus printer. It creates an exact replica of whatever you imagine.
“It’s got like a tip of a glue gun,” said Jones. “It takes a spaghetti-like plastic, and it pushes through, melts it in, and puts it into little strips, 1/100th of an inch thick, that ultimately makes the product that is in your mind.”
You don’t have to be a professional to get things made. Jones says customers can bring a simple sketch with dimensions. After a consultation with a digital graphic artist, the Statasys programs your vision into the computer. In a few hours, customers will have their creations in the palm of their hands.
The UPS Store hopes their 3D printer will help small business owners, creators, and inventors make prototypes that will help get their foot in the door. “Then, they can go get funding, or go get an injection mold, print it out, and actually go into production,” said Jones.
Even with complicated parts, holes, or want your final product to be bigger than 8x8x6, Jones says they are open to make anything, except for guns. For those items, they have a zero-tolerance policy.
“You can’t make it in here,” said Jones. “We’ve been trained on what the parts look like, and how to identify those materials and those shapes. So we don’t print guns or parts of guns, period.”
The cost of the product depends on the amount of material, support plastic, and design time. A two-inch ball barring will cost about $30, where as a foot-long femur model may cost about $500. And as for how long it takes to finish, it can take anywhere from an hour to several hours depending on the size.
The company plans to test out the product and its services in the six locations for about a year.