Kinko's / Fedex Poised for 3D Printing?

nym | 08:50 AM

story.vert.berkeley.jpgThis weekend I was talking to someone who was convinced Kinko's and FedEx merged because they have a 20 year vision that 3D printing, aka rapid prototyping, will become a major commodity. I can't say I disagree with him either - shipping is expensive, and if you can order something and pick it up from your local Kinko's, or Kinko's can print out the new designer chair, and FexEx could locally ship it to you. The distribution network gets smaller, and shipping costs go down.

I quickly googled this, and found two sources that mention rapid prototyping and Kinko's. The first is from BusinessWeek:

3D printers may never fulfill the sci-fi fantasy of a desktop box that fabricates anything you desire. But given their widening use by manufacturing companies, it's easy to imagine one at your local garage, spitting out replacement brake disks for your Honda. Or in your dentist's office, making a new bridge while you wait. Or at a local FedEx Kinko's, where the kids are printing out custom iPod holders. However that plays out, manufacturing will never look the same.

This quote is from Standford news wire:

Quite likely these 3-D printers won't appear initially in the home, but will first show up in a neighborhood copy shop or in the back room of the retail supplier itself. Said White: "Maybe this is where a Kinko's would come in. Or maybe it'll just be a good way for Toys 'R' Us to keep their inventory down."

I also see WalMart getting into the action since they're all about meeting customer demand for items. I already know that Disneyland has special printers on site to do on demand printing of posters. It still amazes me that movie rental stores like Blockbuster haven't started printing out DVDs on demand. I constantly go in there and see that the new hot movie is out of stock. Maybe this is the reason services like Netflix are on the rise.

After all, this is an on demand world.


There was a short time in the UK where people tried selling computer games/software from the shops that also sold boxed software, copying 3.5" disks and printing off covers. I suspect the problem was/is twofold - real companies who own IP are still uptight about letting others 'make' their product (the games were more like PD/shareware titles), and the technology setup is still just on the edge of being economically feasible (local storage for a decent range of titles or network capacity to transfer them fast enough)

Posted by: the hatter at August 1, 2006 03:44 PM
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