Asda launches in-store 3D-printing service

Eggs, milk, cauliflower, small personalised ceramic model of myself...

ASDA customers in York could be adding a new item to their shopping list from next Tuesday, after the supermarket chain announced a pilot programme of in-store 3D-printing.

The York superstore at Monks Cross has been chosen for the new facility, which will enable customers to scan themselves - or compatible items - in a booth, creating a 3D template which will be printed out by combining thin layers of ceramic fluid which then sets hard.

For £40 you could buy an 8-inch figurine of yourself, cast in ceramic and produced in full colour. The scanning process photographs your body from all angles and takes approximately two minutes to complete. The system is capable of recognising six million different colours in order to produce a lifelike resemblance.

In a UK supermarket first, Asda is set to offer its customers the chance to create “mini me” versions of themselves …

Once scanned, customers will be able to choose what size model they like. ASDA claims to offer customers the ability to buy a model "in any size you like", but price and technology constraints are likely to mean that in practice, models can be no bigger than a couple of feet tall. Models will take up to a week to produce and can be collected from the store.

As well as scanning people, the service extends to a variety of objects. ASDA's blog states that "Anything can be scanned – including people, pets and even cars" - but again, it's not clear what the maximum size of objects will be.

Objects can be finished in white or bronze-coloured coatings, as well as full colour. If the York trial is successful ASDA intends to roll the scheme out nationwide. 

To counter concerns that the 3D printing service could be used to create potentially dangerous items, ASDA has dictated that "Nothing smaller than a shoe can be scanned by the system, which should prevent issues around the possible replication of banned items such as the 3D printed gun," according to a spokesman.