The retail side of 3D printing has been a slippery slope for years now –– as evidenced by lagging 3D printer sales and waning consumer interest. While Bronies may have a thriving warm and safe space to create plastic unicorns over at Shapeways, other brands haven’t had as much success with venturing into this so-called “disruptive technology”. The latest to test the 3D printing waters is none other than big box home improvement store Lowe’s.
Starting today, the company’s flagship store in Chelsea, Manhattan, NYC, will begin offering a full-service 3D scanning and printing station for customers to scan broken parts for making their own repairs or printing their own designs while shopping for light bulbs and fertilizer.
Powered by Digital Forming, a supplier of mass customization services, the new Lowe’s Bespoke Design Lab will have 3D printing specialists on-hand to assist customers in scanning and printing new dishwasher parts, family heirlooms, napkin rings and pretty much anything else that can be 3D printed. For those who prefer to not wait, the finished prints can be mailed to their front door later that day.
“We can also help repair rare and out-of-production parts. If you can’t replace a broken part in your local Lowe’s, bring it in to be scanned. We’ll repair the file, then print and ship you the repaired part. This can be effective for worn-down pumps and valves. Our licensed technicians can scan your part for wear-and-tear analysis, producing a detailed 3D model of the breakdown.”
While online 3D printing services do exist, they rely on customers to provide an optimized 3D file –– a hurdle for the average consumer to create or obtain. By providing both on-site assistance, a scanning service and the ability to ship finished prints to a customer’s front door, Lowe’s just might have found an angle for retail 3D printing that works.
For those looking to browse what’s available online or take advantage via 3D-print-on-demand, you can do so at lowesbespokedesigns.com where the initial products available were designed exclusively by 3DShook –– a startup that some have described as the “Netflix of 3D printing.”