If you have a few 3D objects that you would like to make physical, it might not make sense to purchase a whole MakerBot Replicator or equivalent device. To print, fax, and copy shops, the third dimension seemed like a natural extension to their business model (because it literally an upward extension on their previous service).
Image Credit: Wikipedia
One such retailer is The UPS Store, and they just announced that their six-location test was successful. They are now expanding to "nearly 100 additional locations nationwide". Their "Find a Location" page currently lists 45 locations which, I assume, will be appended as more stores setup with the required hardware and training.
Unfortunately, being Canadian, I cannot utilize any of these yet. I could see this being mostly useful, for me, if I wanted to print out an original 3D figurine or sculpture as a gift. Others could make replacement parts and so forth.
UPS Store has not given a timeline to complete this rollout.
Maybe you should become
Maybe you should become pcper’s official 3d printer benchmarker/tester and get a review sample/s to test, or one of those kits to build your own. Or maybe the local Jr. college has a rapid prototyping lab, I used to take a class even after I graduated, just to have access to the on campus facilities, but that was back in the day, and tuition was only $19 dollars a credit hour. I remember UC Berkeley’s student government would fund all sorts of labs and hobbyist facilities, in the student union, a lot of colleges do, and sometimes the equipment you can get access to costs in the 6 figure range. The local Jr college is a good source for access to expensive equipment, and learning tools, and student discounts on expensive 3d software packages, or just use the college’s license while you are a student. Is college tuition that expensive in Canada?
Maybe UPS can print some
Maybe UPS can print some devices to attach to their boxes, so that when the driver tosses your delivery over the back yard fence he can attach/deploy a 3d printed array of plastic springs to cushion the blow on that fine delicate bohemian glassware that was shipped all the way form the Czech Republic.