The UPS Store is adding 3-D printing services to dozens more of its locations nationwide.
The subsidiary of UPS says this comes following last year’s successful pilot program.
Right now, there’s only one store right now in Georgia with this service, and it’s located on Ashford Dunwoody Road in metro Atlanta.
“A lot of people, they see 3-D printing or they hear 3-D printing and they are not exactly sure what it is until they can touch and feel the products that come out of there. And it’s amazing that you send a file and this actual product comes out that you can use and it’s very cool,” says Sejay Zaveri, the owner of that UPS Store.
3-D printing, also known as rapid prototyping, starts with a small spool of plastic thread that’s fed through a nozzle.
“It’s heated up to melting point and that nozzle is moved around on a plate, and it draws a design in plastic, which cools when it hits the plate. Then that plate drops down, you know, a hair and it draws another design,” says Dr. David Gay, an associate professor of math at the University of Georgia.
An audio version of this story.
Experts say 3-D printing is ideal for creating prototypes and parts.
“The real payoff is going to be in industrial production and the ability to produce components of complex geometry and performance that was previously not possible,” says Dr. Suman Das, a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech.
As for the cost, it varies depending on the size of the item.
“To put it in perspective, an iPhone case would cost approximately $60. But something the size of a femur bone, would be about $325,” says UPS spokeswoman Nicole Cox.
More UPS Stores throughout Georgia are expected to get the service over the next few months.
Video: The UPS Store
How Stuff Works has a good explanation and overview of 3-D printing technologies.