Staples, a popular office supply chain of retail stores, will soon begin offering 3D printing services for their customers in parts of Europe.  The 3D models will be made with paper and will be available in full color.

Staples will soon be offering what they are calling “Staples Easy 3D” for their customers.  The service will be just like their current printing services ordered from home and available for pickup or by mail.  This new 3D printing service will be available first for customers in Belgium and The Netherlands in early 2013, and the services will later be expanded to other parts of Europe and abroad.

The new service from the company was announced at the Euromold 2012 by Mcor Technologies, which will be working with the office supply chain.  Mcor Technologies new ‘iris’ line of 3D printers will use standard printer paper instead of plastic in constructing 3D images.  This different approach uses glued bits of paper in exact dimensions prescribed by the printer program and it can provide the customer with a high-resolution layer thickness of 100 microns. 

Something even more spectacular about this printing service is that you can get your 3D model with realistic coloring and shading.  For those leery of believing that paper models could be a strong as 3D plastic models, the company claims the models made on the machine are very similar to composite wood with the ability to be tapped or drilled.

3D printing is quickly gaining in popularity and will have future applications in all manner of devices and uses.  Researchers with Washington State University experimented with simulated moon rocks in an effort to melt them down to be used in a 3D printer.  They proved that tools or other things could be created, in theory, for future colonists on the moon using only the materials present.  Other research into 3D printing is finding uses for human organ implants by fashioning cartilage cells in mesh molds or other needs such as artificial arteries.