A UPS Store in the San Diego area last week became the first UPS location to offer 3D printing. More locations around the country are in the works.
UPS is targeting the service at startups and small business owners.
From the Announcement:
The UPS Store is testing the Stratasys uPrint SE Plus printer, which according to Stratasys is most well-known for its ability to print detailed objects more accurately than home 3D printers. Stratasys notes that this is particularly important when parts need to fit into each other or fit some other object. With this printer, The UPS Store locations will be equipped to produce items like engineering parts, functional prototypes, acting props, architectural models, fixtures for cameras, lights and cables.
We wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that Fedex/Kinkos also begins offering 3D printing services in the near future.
Large companies with thousands of locations offering 3D printing are NOT reasons for libraries to stop offering or planning to offer these services.
However, they are reasons for libraries to work hard (now!) to make 3D printing services (including all-important training) well-known to their communities (including small businesses) and to make sure that the value proposition of their printing service is more than, “it’s free, use us.”
In fact, now is the time to explain to many potential users why they would want to know about and use these services.
What can they do to help the student, small business, entrepreneur, etc.? Don’t assume that your entire community is aware of what 3D printing is and why they need to know about it. UPS and others beginning to offer 3D printing will only bring more attention to this technology. That’s not a bad thing and in fact gives libraries the opportunity to get a larger audience.
3D printing is currently a great example of where libraries can stay ahead of the curve if they promote, market, and demonstrate (crucial) the service correctly, today! It’s also an opportunity to let competition (or whatever you want to call it) make us work harder and more effectively.
Let’s not let this wonderful opportunity pass us by.