How 3D Printing Is Moving Forward

As you have may seen on our Twitter feed, Staples is going to have in-store 3D Printers.

This isn’t one of the plastic thread printers I usually talk about because they’re well known and my friends have them.  They’re MCor’s IRIS printer ( which actually uses colored, glued, and cut paper.  It’s basically making things out of faux colored wood.  At least appearance-wise these things can be more advanced than your home 3d printer with single or two colors of plastic.

Awhile ago I noted that 3D printing could spread like Print On Demand.  I noted that a store like Lowes or Home Depot could have a 3D printer, much as CVS had made a POD deal with Kodak.  I guess it arrived – though as opposed to doing 3D printing while I get PVC pipe, I’ll get it while checking out some awesome folders.

In short, I’d like to do a victory lap for predicting this could happen – then get down to the repercussions of it.

I was mostly right!

OK, not an overly satisfying victory lap.  So let’s move on – what does this mean, in my expert opinion.

PROMINENCE: This is pretty prominent.  People go to Staples for all sorts of things, which you can tell because of Staple’s at-times oddball selections.  They do a lot and serve a lot of needs, so many people are going to get to exposed to 3D Printing.  This will probably accelerate acceptance.

CONTEXT: I predicted that 3D printing would first appear in more hardware-oriented contexts, or perhaps be something CVS piled onto.  I was wrong here, but the context is interesting.  People will be exposed to 3D printing in more of an office/professional/utility context.  I think this means it will be seen as more a media/creative/business tool than as a hardware/goods tool if there’s widespread public exposure.

COMPETITION: I don’t know how well this will work, and I’m kind of easily distracted by how cool it is.  If it is a success, then you can expect others to copy it (I’m looking at you, Office Max).  What we want to monitor is if it’s rational adaption or bandwagon-jumping.

COMPETITION THE SECOND: If this works out you think other companies making (or wanting to make) 3D printers won’t jump on the bandwagon?  I expect the bandwagon has a lot of room.

OPPORTUNITIES: This still presents opportunities for people who will work with the 3D printers, those who maintain them, and those who install and teach on them.  At least if this works out – might be something to pay attention too.  You may want to start putting 3D Printing on that resume . . .

LEGAL ISSUES: Oh, you just imagine the ways people will try to keep 3D printers from printing things that are of dubious legal nature.  I note this in general, but we’re probably going to hear more of it.

MEDIA PROMINENCE: I want to watch how people react in the greater media to this – if at all.  It could bring 3D printing into greater prominence, and in a positive way, unlike the edgy issues of 3D Printed guns.

This is a big step forward in 3D printing, my geeks.  Pay attention.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, nerd and geek culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at