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3D printing could be coming to a shopping centre near you very soon – that’s if British supermarket giant Tesco has anything to do with it.

Research into the new technology has begun and could see shoppers walk away with bespoke 3D printed products tucked into their shopping baskets in the near future.

Paul Wilkinson, a lead research specialist with Tesco, told The Grocer magazine: “We already print photos and posters in many of our larger stores, so why not other gifts and personalised items?

“[3D printing] could revolutionise the way we view stores and what we can get from them.

“How about letting kids design their own toys and then actually being able to get them made? What if we had a digital catalogue of spare parts for items that you’d bought?

“They could be printed on demand and ready for you by the time you’d finished your shopping. You could even take a broken item into store; we could scan it in 3D, repair it digitally and make you a new one.”

The applications for 3D printing are broad, from medical uses to printing keyboards with moving parts, even vets are getting in on the act – this duck was the lucky recipient of a 3D printed prosthetic foot.

It’s no surprise then that this new print tech is gaining global recognition quickly and is set to revolutionise the way we perceive the concept of mass production.

Currently Tesco is meeting “some of the big names and getting together with lots of start-ups and trying to find that idea or product that might just change the retail world.

“There’s been a lot of buzz recently. It’s great that we have one of the machines to test out and to be able to look at how they might change the way stores work,” added Paul.

Meanwhile the rest of us will have to wait with baited breath as the 3D printing revolution gets underway but, with science fiction quickly materialising itself as science fact, we may not have to wait all that long.

Join the 3D printing debate by sending us a tweet @ZestPrinting

JULIE BANKS
Julie Banks

I’m the business strategy person. I’ve worked in print for
almost 20 years so I know it inside out. For me, people
are the best thing about Zest, both my team and our
customers. I get a real buzz from helping customers to do
what they do even better.

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