High-quality 3D printing is still out of reach for the average Maker who wants to create just a few samples of his/her product, but if you are a big company looking for a new marketing tool, economies of scale are different. The British supermarket chain ASDA is trialling a new 3D printing service in its York store, where your body (and clothes) can be scanned and digitized to create a little ceramic model of yourself.

At the York store, an handheld 3D scanner is used to generate a polygonal model of the customer. Scanning itself takes just two minutes, says ASDA, then you can go shopping while the digital model is optimized via software and sent to an outsourced 3D printing service.

ASDA figurines are printed with ceramic powder binding and this approach is, quite likely, based on 3D Systems' technology. On its website (at this link) ASDA published a short movie showing the scanning and printing phases, and here a ZPrinter 650 is clearly identifiable. This also explains how ASDA can offer multicolor 3D printing, instead of simpler white or monochromatic prints.

From a technology standpoint ASDA project brings nothing new, what matters is that it puts 3D printing inside one of the most informal and familiar places of everyday's life: the superstore. And - thanks to the economies of scale we mentioned earlier - at a reasonable price even for who knows nothing about 3D printers. The price tag starts from 40 pounds (47-48 euros), not much for a little ceramic yourself and - says ASDA - less than you'd spend with any other 3D printing service.


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