Last week, we posted a story about UPS’s involvement in shipping 3D printed items. It now seems like the British are following the example of the American mail company, as Royal Mail today starts to run a 3D printing service. Customers can choose among a variety of 3D printable items from an online list, and get their products printed. They can go to Royal Mail’s central office on London’s Oxford Street or get them delivered by post. The mail service tests this project until January 8, and in the beginning of 2015 will be decided whether the service will continue or not.
For this project, Royal Mail works together with imakr, a company in 3D printing. Together, they offer a service where people can choose between 3D printing phone cases, magnets and even wine coolers. The prices range from 5 tot 45 pounds. This can be seen as the first step of the British mail service company into shipping 3D printable items.
Romain Kidd, CEO at iMakr, said:
iMakr is excited to bring to Royal Mail its expertise in 3D printing by offering customers an introduction into 3D printing through one if its Central London delivery offices and a selection of objects from MyMiniFactory.com. Royal Mail customers will find unique objects created by the best community of designers for 3D printing, a market in rapid development for which MyMiniFactory.com is delivering key 3D printable content and products like MyMiniFactory TV.
However, a Gartner Inc. 2014 Report on 3D printing also points out that in 2018 only 2.3 million 3D printers will be sold internationally, and the majority of them will be industrial printers. The reason that has been given is that consumer printers are still too expensive for the masses. This is why Daily Mail now wants to enter the 3D printing area, as pointed out by its Chief Customer Officer Mike Newnham:
3D printing is an emerging technology that has many applications and offers an innovative way to create unique or personalised objects. It can be prohibitively expensive for consumers or small businesses to invest in a 3D printer, so we are launching a pilot to gauge interest in 3D printing to sit alongside Royal Mail’s e-commerce and delivery capability.
Image credits: Ian Lloyd.