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Staples Raising The Stakes In 3D Printing

Staples, an early advocate of 3D printers and services, is upping its game again.

The No. 1 office supply chain (which is about to swallow No. 2), has launched an online 3D printing platform that will allow small businesses and consumers to upload their own 3D designs or select from a curated assortment of models.

The new platform will allow users to submit their own 3D files and customize their designs by using an array of provided materials and colors or by adding text, figures and images to any printable project. The platform also features a responsive, interactive 3D viewer so users can preview their creation before it’s printed.

The finished prints will then be shipped to homes and offices.

Staples already provides 3D printing services in its retail locations and through its Copy & Print sales teams, but the latest offering is intended to makes 3D printing even easier for businesses, the retailer said.

“This is a great addition for our business customers that are looking for an easy way to prototype with quick turnaround time and at an affordable price,” said Behzad Soltani, Staples’ e-commerce services VP. “The platform allows beginners to get a taste and try 3D printing by selecting one of our existing models and making it their own through our customization options.”

The platform, including the design catalog, printing and fulfillment, is powered by French firm Sculpteo, which provides Cloud-based, on-demand 3D printing of individual products and short-run manufacturing.

Staples became the first major U.S. retailer to carry 3D printers in 2013. It has since rolled out related hardware and accessories to a limited number of stores; expanded its assortment to include printers by MakerBot; launched an in-store pilot of 3D printing services in New York and Los Angeles; and began testing a Stratasys-supported services program in a number of other locations.