Asda Expands 3D Printing Services in 2014

in 2014 it will be easier to get a 3D printed figurine of yourself, since Asda, a subsidiary of Walmart is expanding its service ‘mini-me’ to as many as 50 stores in January. Retail Week reports that Asda will also be selling 3D printers “in the very near future”.

Making a little figure of yourself is something you can already do in special 3D printing shops, but it’s not a very common service to be offered in supermarkets. Asda is a big supermarket in the United Kingdom and in October this year it already started offering this in-store 3D printing service in its York store. Making a 3D printed figurine of yourself means you will be 3D scanned after which a 3D printer will make a print of you. After a week customers could get their figurine and the total costs per object started at 40 pounds. Customers could basically get their figurine printed out in whatever size they want.

In October this year, the other big supermarket chain of UK, Tesco, already predicted 3D printing to become a regular part of the service of supermarkets in the near future. Tesco’s IT Chief Mike McNamara told V3: “I think over the next few years you will see 3D printing in shops, because for the missing hose from the vacuum printer, you can print them in the time that someone enters the store, does a bit of shopping and leaves the store. So I can definitely see that being part of the retail offering in the none too distant future.”

Asda tested its service in different stores and discovered that it was very popular among children and soldiers: an illogical combination of target groups? Not really, if you think about it a little deeper. “Some [soldiers] who are not at home for Christmas because they’re doing tours of Afghanistan have given them to loved ones as a gift, which is quite touching,” says Asda head of personalisation Phil Stout to Retail Week.

Asda will be providing more 3D printing applications for shoppers, such as building avatars based on 3D scans. They also want to let shoppers order personalized 3D printed branded goods,  such as Mr Men figures or superhero dolls. Asda says “anything can be scanned — including people, pets and even cars.” It will not take too long until 3D printers will be available in Asda stores.

Credits images/ video: Asda.

About the Author

Jelmer Luimstra is a Dutch journalist. He covers 3D printing news and writes about innovation.

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