Early 3D Adopters: Who's Doing 3D Printing?
The UPS Store
The UPS Store-Kearny Mesa, located in San Diego, is using its 3D printer to transform customer perception, as well. That's why it, too, keeps its printer in the lobby. But as a franchise, The UPS Store is able to draw traditional work from the surrounding area—everyone from engineers and prototype designers to hobbyists.
Burke Jones, owner of the local franchise, has been in the printing industry for 35 years. Because of his background, this and his other franchises look more like traditional printing operations and act more like entrepreneurial businesses. He installed the Kearny Mesa franchise's first 3D printer, a single-color Stratasys uPrint, in August 2013 as part of a nationwide test run by UPS.
Today there are six 3D printer installations in The UPS Stores around the country: San Diego; Menlo Park, CA; Washington, DC; Frisco, TX; Lisle, IL; and New York.
The UPS Store brand has been a tremendous boon to Jones' investment. Since his store was featured in Forbes, his 3D printer has stayed busy. "Between here and Los Angeles, there are lots of 3D print shops," Jones says. "But people are willing to travel significant distances to bring their ideas to us.
"Once they come in and see 3D printing in front of them, it's almost like part of their brain activates that wasn't active before." He points to one of his customers who appeared recently on the television show "Shark Tank," looking for a deal on a plastic cover that slides over a computer's camera to protect from cyberspying. "He had a dream and saw it come to life here," Jones says.
Once people are in the store for 3D printing, it presents an opportunity for the staff to convert them into printing customers, as well. "As a printer, what distinguishes us from others?" Jones asks. "We can do 3D, as well. The same goes with 2D. Many people come to The UPS Store to ship a package and end up printing a part. I'm not going to get these people into my store very often. From that aspect, 3D (capabilities have) been great."