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.”
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they are talking about they really need to be experimenting with LS, Polyjet/Connex or even metal processes — not an out of date desktop ABS/PLA extrusion machine.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.