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Will UPS & Stratasys, Ltd. Put The Squeeze On Home 3D Printing?

Will UPS & Stratasys, Ltd. Put The Squeeze On Home 3D Printing?

On a website touting September 22-26 as “3D Print Week,” United Parcel Service, Inc. (NYSE: UPS) said Monday it planned to begin offering 3D printing services at nearly 100 stores across the U.S.

By installing a 3D printing service in many of its brick and mortar locations, UPS could potentially bring pressure to bear on the rapidly growing home 3D printer market.

Related: Local Motors Making World's First 3D-Printed Car

Partnership With Stratasys

UPS said it had selected the Stratasys, Ltd. (NASDAQ: SSYS) uPrint SE Plus professional-grade 3D printer.

According to the press release, the uPrint SE plus could “accurately and reliably produce everything from complex engineering parts to prototypes to one of a kind objects.”

Not Your Father’s Home 3D Printer

The company sought to put some distance between the models used in UPS stores and lower-cost home units.

UPS Store small business technology leader, Daniel Remba said, "There are significant differences between home 3D printers and professional 3D printers. Many of the challenging and time consuming steps used to prepare a simpler printer are fully automated on the uPrint SE Plus, leading to added precision and reliability, higher print quality and a success rate that is unmatched by a home printer."

Can Home 3D Printers Compete?

UPS clearly believed home 3D printers would be no “quality” match for the professional machines they planned to install in UPS stores.

If cost had anything to do with quality, the nearly $21,000 retail cost of the uPrint SE Plus put it in a league of its own when compared with the $999 price tag of the 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE: DDD) Cube Printer at Home Depot.

Small Business Customers

In fact, 3D printing is far from common in most households. As a result, the service offered by UPS and other retailers is more likely to be in demand by small businesses that require the quality output of a professional 3D printer but can’t afford (or don’t want to make) the investment.

The UPS Store played up the small business connection by hosting a Twitter chat titled “How 3D print can help your small business,” on September 23.

Related: 5 Companies That Just Might Object To 3D Printed Food

Home 3D Gamers

For those who want to use a 3D printer for game pieces, small novelty items or even rough prototypes, a less expensive home 3D printer might be more than sufficient.

With the cost of printing at the UPS store ranging from $60 for an iPhone case to $325 for a replica of a femur bone, hobbyists and other home-based players might also find the investment in an inexpensive printer and materials could work out in their favor in the long run.

At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco had no position in any mentioned securities.


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