From Alabama to Hawaii to Idaho, 3-D printers are gearing up to become what fax machines were in the ‘80s.
The UPS Store launched a pilot program in the summer of 2013 where it put six 3-D printers in franchise stores in select cities across the country. The program was such a success that the shipping giant is expanding the program more than 15 times over. Soon, there will be 3-D printing machines available in nearly 100 UPS Stores across the U.S., according to a statement released from the company today.
The printers, called Stratasys uPrint SE Plus, are a level above home desktop versions, giving entrepreneurs, inventors, artists and small-business owners access to fast, reliable 3-D printers in their neighborhood.
There are more than 4,400 UPS Stores across the U.S., so the expansion of the pilot program still leaves the majority of franchises sans 3-D printer. To find out whether the UPS Store in your area will have a 3-D printer, you can check here.
The popularity of the UPS Store 3-D printing program is in line with the explosive popularity of the 3-D printing industry overall in recent years. Additive manufacturing, the more technical name for 3-D printing, is a $3 billion industry, according to the most current version of an annual report on the industry published by consulting firm Wohlers Associates, Inc. Over the past three years, the 3-D printing industry has been growing at more than 30 percent per year, according to research from Wohlers Associates.