3D Printers

‘Just Nipping to the Post Office Darling, I Need a Couple of 3D Printed Models’

In what appears to be one of those weird coincidences, overnight I received communications from two different sources about two different projects that will see 3D printing potentially made available in Post Offices in two different countries.

First up is news from Sculpteo about a trial launch across three Ile-de-France post offices whereby, La Poste is now offering people in the region access to and information about 3D printing. The trial post offices are located in Boulogne-Billancourt “Hôtel de Ville”, Paris “Bonne Nouvelle”, and Paris “La Boétie”.

The premise is that La Poste is looking to its large network of modernized post offices to imagine new, local, digital services in order to make digital technology accessible to everyone, whether private individuals or professionals. Customers are encouraged either to design their own objects or customize and order products from a catalogue onsite that currently includes several dozen items.

Post office staff and 3D printing advisors will help customers and have received training that enables them to understand and share information about 3D to help customers make the right technical choices. La Poste has also partnered with service-provider Sculpteo to fullfil 3D printing using other, higher-end 3D printing processes and to be able to offer a wide range of material choices.

Depending on the initial results of this experiment, which will last for a period of six months, the project may be rolled out to more post offices across several French cities.

Meanwhile, from the United States, comes the news that U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) is also exploring a similar service model. The organization has hired Christensen Associates to help produce a whitepaper on the advancing technology of 3D Printing to identify facts, trends, and implications specifically for the USPS.

Christensen Associates will analyse the current facts related to 3D printing, trends in technology and market evolution of 3D printing, and the implications of 3D printing for the Postal Service. With this information in hand, Christensen Associates will assist the OIG with consideration of strategic options for the organisation. Work was reportedly solicited under task order RARC-13-0002 and began with a kickoff meeting at the end of last month. The completed OIG whitepaper is scheduled for release in spring 2014. So nothing imminent on the American continent, but interesting development nonetheless.