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Staples to bring 3D printing into stores with Mcor IRIS printers

by Alistair Lowe on 3 December 2012, 10:45

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'3D Printing' remains a buzzword within today's industry and continues to grow as a segment that promises to revolutionise the way that we do work and create/prototype new designs.

Multinational firm, Staples, has just announced its intentions to take the technology one step further and offer an in-store 3D printing service, initially trialling in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg from January 2013, with a full commercial launch to take place later-on in the year.

Here at HEXUS, we've provided coverage of a range of 3D printing technologies, with the most popular currently based around the melting of plastic or curing of resin, however Staples, no doubt down to its vast supply of the material, has opted for Mcor's IRIS printers, which use standard A4 paper as their building material.

The technology functions by stacking sheets of paper, with model area held together by an adhesive. The use of paper allows for full-colour prints, with the kind of 2D resolution you've come to expect from a modern inkjet, whilst resolution in the z-axis is limited by the thickness and pattern of the paper (5,760 x 1,440 x 508 dpi). Actual mechanical accuracy (again limit by paper thickness) is an impressive 12 x 12 x 100 micrometers. As paper is stacked, structural strength begins to represent that of cardboard and, at high thickness, wood.

Undeniably, this technology can achieve incredible accuracy, though structural strength various widely depending on the application and paper naturally features some undesirable properties. If you don't have an efficient means for recycling paper, a significant amount of material can be wasted, especially for small prints; the printers themselves aren't altogether so cheap either, with the current IRIS model retailing for around £32,000.

Ignoring all downsides, the new service is still likely to have mass appeal with its many benefits and, this writer for one looks forward to giving Staple's brave new service a shot when it's launched here, in the UK.



HEXUS Forums :: 5 Comments

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Won't someone think of the trees? :p (mind you, the time it must take to print you could probably grow a few in the meantime..)
Shame its only paper or there could have been some nice modding potential introduced by this, paper+computer does not sound like a good idea… :p
kalniel
Won't someone think of the trees? :p (mind you, the time it must take to print you could probably grow a few in the meantime..)
you can grow more trees, you can't grow more plastic (well alright you can but its then competing for food and fuel planting space). Most if not all paper now comes from managed tree stock, i.e. plant to replace the ones being cut down, else they'd go out of business.
It's crazy to think that within 20 years most of us will have a 3D printer in the home, and instead of buying a bit of piping from Wickes, or HDD rails from SCAN, we will be downloading the blue print and printing the parts ourselves…. now for the noverboard I was promised in back to the future…
Hmm could make shopping online with Ann Summers and buy the specs for the latest #%$€….a bit fruity to say the least. . ;-)