STORES Magazine - July 2015 - 49
Kaptsan calls 3-D printing a collaborative personalization that provides
uniqueness and increased "value in
the eyes of consumers. It also becomes
a virtual long tail on the endless aisle.
This equates to better consumer satisfaction through the experience and the
content created while respecting the
On the business-to-business retail
side, Remba says 3-D printing offers
a service to anyone who's making a
"The great [UPS Store] stories are
typically about new inventions," he
says. "Most small businesses don't
want to spend the money on investing
in a professional 3-D printer. The home
3-D printers are fairly inexpensive, but
The worldwide demand
for 3-D printers, related
materials and software is
expected to increase more
than 20 percent per year
to $5 billion in 2017.
- The Freedonia Group
of another business service at the UPS
Store," Remba says.
For larger retailers, the 3-D printer
represents no packaging, no logistics, no
inventory and no waste associated with
trend spotting and forecasting, says Igal
Kaptsan, vice president of product management for 3-D software design and
systems firm Dassault Systèmes.
"Personalization is ubiquitous and is
requested by consumers of all ages,"
Kaptsan says. "Globalization has introduced millions of products online
and on [store] shelves."
we've never thought too much about
them. Ours are professional quality
and they get pretty expensive because
they make much higher-quality parts,
and that's something that a lot of small
businesses don't want to invest in."
Adams, a single-store operator with
the only publically available 3-D
printer in her city, views 3-D printing
as the future with limitless possibilities
that are only hindered by expensive
"Sometimes the project can be pretty expensive for the customer depending on how dense of material that they
need - that's the challenging part,"
Adams says. "But the potential is endless. Say you go to a Meineke and you
need a [car] part. They don't have the
part there, but in an hour or two, they
can have that part printed specifically
for your car. I'm sure somewhere on
down the road, they'll make some-
thing maybe even with metal in it."
Since the category became trendy,
many analysts have speculated how
retailers could use the technology,
ranging from Amazon.com making quirky toys and iPhone cases
to Walmart quickly acquiring overwhelming market share.
According to a report from industry
market research firm The Freedonia
Group, the worldwide demand for
3-D printers, related materials and
software is expected to increase more
than 20 percent per year to $5 billion
in 2017. 3-D printing is used for promotional materials and localized manufacturing, minimizing supply chain
costs and mass production schedules;
it has been used by everybody and for
everything, from two Missouri high
schoolers printing ketchup caps to the
nonprofit corporation Defense Distributed creating workable firearms.
Adams says the first thing she
printed looked like an alien toy, but
the most memorable was a spoon for
a blind three-year-old boy fighting
brain cancer. The boy could only eat
from one type of special grip spoon
that was no longer manufactured, so
his family called the UPS store, hoping
for a miracle.
"I had to keep from crying on the
phone with this man," Adams says.
"He was so emotional."
The Louisville UPS store designer,
Doug Seelbach, spent 20 hours designing the spoon, but since the 3-D
printer's acrylonitrile butadiene styrene material is not approved by the
federal Food and Drug Administration
for eating utensils, he was only able to
create the grip for a spoon.
Adams admits most projects are not
this intense. "It is a whole new world,
and each project is different and
unique," she says. "I've never done
one project the same."
Fred Minnick is the author of the book
Bourbon Curious: A Simple Guide for the
STORES July 2015 49