Will 3D printing reduce our products eco-footprint?

Staples will be offering in store 3D printing in Europe early next year.

You’ll be able to upload your 3D design to the Staples server and pop into the store later on to pick up your 3D object.

It will cut out the need for distribution, logistics, storage, and lots of middle men. But it will mean that you will be likely driving on your own to Staples to pick up one item, rather than a big truck picking up many thousand items.

It also opens all all sorts of ideas around individuals buying designs for products rather than buying products themselves. Which again completely changes the logistics and distribution process, as well as the challenges of patents and intellectual property.

Maybe, it could also help in the reduction of waste. Maybe we could work out how a kids toy has broken, take a 3D photograph of the bit that has broken, convert that 3D photo into a 3D design that gets uploaded and printed at Staples. We can then repair the toy or radio or mouse that has broken rather than chucking it away and buying a new one.

So if we see a similar rapid acceleration in 3D printing as we have with smart phones and tablets, this bold first step by Staples could be game changing for our manufacturing and associated industries.

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