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Asda launches 3D printing trial

By Retail Technology | Wednesday October 16 2013

Supermarket becomes first in UK to offer 3D printing service to customers, letting them buy miniature models of any scanned object at a price it says undercuts than other retailers

UK supermarket Asda has today announced the launch of a 3D printing service trial for customers to purchase their very own digital 3D prints instore.

The trial of the new technology began 15 October in Asda’s York superstore, but the nation’s second largest supermarket also hinted that a national roll out is on the cards.

Making 3D printing more accessible

With prices averaging at just £40 per printed model, the company said its service would offer the highest quality results at over 60% cheaper than other retailers, like Selfridges 3D printing service for example, where prices start at £100.

The service enables Asda customers to have 3D versions of any object they require printed, up to the size of a family car, scaled down to an 8-inch figure. And the most popular 3D item is predicted to be personalised miniature figurines (pictured above), which Asda said are set to be the next big trend in gifting. 

In order to create the 3D print, scanner cameras are placed around the subject covering the entire surface area during a two-minute scanning session. The shape is recreated in 3D form by spraying ceramic fluid in extremely thin layers to build up a solid object. Figures will be printed and ready to pick up as part of shoppers’ next weekly shop.

Part of retail innovation strategy
The supermarket has been working closely alongside American parent company Walmart for the past 18 months to make 3D printing accessible to UK shoppers who are looking to trial the latest in the world of gadgets. The launch of the 3D printing service is another example of Asda championing the newest innovative technology for customers following its recent launch of the UK’s first ever 3D Rapid Scan3.   
Mark Ibbotson, retail director at Asda, stated: “We are thrilled to be the first supermarket and best value retailer to offer this new shopping experience in the UK. Our customers are always looking for the next big innovation and 3D printing is a guaranteed talking point among friends and family this season. With limitless printing options available, we’re very excited to see how our customers will take advantage of this groundbreaking piece of technology.”

Analyst firm Planet Retail commented that 3D printing technology is seen as a possible game-changer in the industry for its potential to revolutionise production methods and logistics. “It allows objects to be produced at the point of sale – or even at homes – directly from a CAD [computer-aided design] file,” it said in a report online today. And it added that Tesco and Sainsbury’s were among other UK retailers reportedly mulling over possible business opportunities offered by the technology.

Asda 3D printing

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