UK supermarket giant Tesco are looking at 3D printing as a potential service to offer their customer’s in-store.
Tesco are examining various ways to offer 3D printing, according to the company’s innovation ambassador Paul Wilkinson. Outlined in a blog post Paul and his team are trying to find out how it can make life better for customers and colleagues.
Tesco already offer photos and poster printing in their stores so 3D printing is seen as a natural progression of these services. Paul predicts that customers can print gifts and personalized items, such as custom toys designed by kids that can be printed out while the parents do their weekly shopping.
He also suggests a digital catalog of spare parts for items that they stock which can be printed on demand when the customer has a defective part. He also proposes a 3D scanning and printing service that can take a broken item, repair it in 3D design software and print out a new one.
Wilkinson’s team is taking a serious interest in this emerging technology and a MakerBot printer sits proudly on his desk (above) along with some 3D objects being worked on at his workstation.
“We’re pretty excited about 3D printing and we’ll be working hard to see how we might be able use it to make things better for customers.”, says Tesco’s Paul Wilkinson.
Wilkinson is taking his team to San Francisco on a fact finding mission to meet “some of the big names” and to get together with “lots of startups” in an effort to find the idea or product that Tesco could offer in their stores.
Tesco is by no means the first big-name retailer to be interested in 3D printing, Staples are already selling the Cube3D machine and Amazon have just launched a 3D printing marketplace. Now that the major retailers are taking an interest, it may be time for 3D printing to break-out into the mainstream and become more than a niche product for geeks.