On Wednesday a blog on supermarket giant Tesco’s website appeared, simply titled “3D Printing.”

The post expounds the activities of the Tesco technology team, of which the blogger, Paul Wilkinson is a member, and their constant search for “the latest and very best technology [to] find out how it can make life better for customers and colleagues. No idea is too big, no thought unthinkable and no ambition too grand – well, almost.”

Makerbot  Replicator Close Up

The post makes reference to the “buzz” around 3D printing with specific cursory mentions of medical applications and houses! At Tesco however, the team are playing with a Makerbot Rep 1 (you’d think, with their profits they could fork out for a current model?) to find out more and explore the potential of an in-house 3D printing service. A kind of 3D print while you shop experience.

The vision is wide, embracing the potential for customized gifts, a digital catalogue of spare parts, and even a 3DP repair/replace shop, whereby customers can bring in broken products that are no longer available, have them scanned, digitally repaired and a new one printed.

It’s all a bit ‘pie in the sky’ though – no real substance — a bit like Sainsbury’s before them. To fulfill the applications they are talking about they really need to be experimenting with LS, Polyjet/Connex or even metal processes — not an out of date desktop ABS/PLA extrusion machine.

They’re not making any promises though – it seems they recognize it’s important to be “current” but that the current systems are not ready, at least in terms of ROI on the 3D printers they would need.

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