Asda Supermarket Trials 3D Printed Models of Shoppers

by Matthew Wellington on December 30, 2013

Asda 3D PrintingIf you haven’t yet decided what you are going to buy yourself with your leftover Christmas money, how about creating a mini model of yourself or family!

Some months ago that would sound like a crazy idea but not since the Asda supermarket trials of 3D printed models for shoppers.

Once the new 3D printing service has been fully integrated in all stores nationwide; it will now be possible for you to create mini models of yourself.

Asda is the first supermarket in UK to offer this 3D printing service in-store. Thanks to this service, shoppers will be able to scan and thereafter replicate anything in ceramics. Apparently the new 3D printing service has been undergoing trials for about a year and a half (18 months), with close supervision from Asda’s parent company Walmart.

The service was just recently launched on Asda’s York store on October 15. According to the supermarket, the success of the additive manufacturing service in this store will be crucial in reaching their decision for full adoption in all their stores nationwide.

Replicated models will be about 8 inches high but the supermarket asserted that the figurines could be scaled to specific sizes depending on what shoppers want. It is estimated that a single model will take about a week’s time to be fully recreated and handed over to the customer. Therefore once ordered, the shopper can pick up their ‘mini me’ figure the next time they visit.

Models will be priced starting from £40, which is equivalent to $64 (USD). Most importantly, this new 3D printing service is anticipated to offer shoppers the next evolution of photography. While traditionally photographs have been preserved in frames, 3D printing will make it possible for people to still have ‘photographs’ only that this time they will be in solid ‘mini me’ figures.

There are great expectations that the service will appeal to most shoppers because of the life like models one can achieve from it. There is also a high likelihood that the service will provide a new and easy way of creating wedding cake toppers.

How the 3D Printing Service Works

In order to create a replicated model of oneself from Asda supermarket stores, there is a special 3D Scanner that shoppers will be asked to step onto. Scanning cameras are then placed all over the object or subject to be replicated.

Scanning is expected to be done in no more than 2 minutes with the cameras fully scanning the surface of the object. During this time while the object is being scanned, approximately 6 million different colors can be identified. This is generally meant to increase replication accuracy of the service.

The service can replicate models reproducing them in the form of a bronze style coating, full color or in basic white. After scanning of the object to be replicated is complete, the virtual 3D model is sent to a specialized 3D printer. It is from the printer that the object or model of the shopper is recreated in ceramic with the shopper being allowed to choose from the three main options: white, Full Color or bronze style coating.

During the replication process, the 3D model is created by systematically spraying a ceramic fluid in relatively thin layers. Each layer once sprayed is allowed to set prior to spraying another. This process goes on and on until it eventually builds up a solid model.

What’s even more intriguing about this new 3D printing service is that not only models of shoppers can be replicated. Other things that can be recreated through the service include valuable objects, cars and even pets.

So for example, any shopper who would like to have a mini model of their pet only needs to visit an Asda supermarket store with the pet, have it scanned and the replicate will be ready after a week.

Legal Issues

The thought of creating 3D printed models of shoppers with an excellent level of accuracy has been pretty exhilarating for many people who normally shop at Asda supermarket. After being launched at the York store, many cases of shoppers coming from far away cities to create models of themselves were reported.

However the 3D printing service does come with its fair share of legal issues and implications that the supermarket has had to factor in. One of the top most concerns has been the possibility of shoppers replicating objects that have been banned for instance the 3D Printed Gun.

Because of legal matters, certain restrictions have been placed by the supermarket on the type of objects that can be scanned and recreated to first and foremost prevent any cases of copyright infringement.

So far, anything of size smaller than that of a shoe cannot be scanned or 3D fabricated through the service.


As soon as the 3D Printing Service is wholly approved for full scale implementation, there will be 3D printing stations in Asda supermarket stores nationwide. This will provide a perfect opportunity for not only individual shoppers but families as well to create their own personalized models.

There is no doubt that the 3D printing service will provide a new way of preserving family memories over and above the classical photographs. Although there have been concerns about the rather slow replication process as shoppers have to wait for almost a week before they can pick up their ‘mini me’ figurines, the fact that scanning is done as fast as 2 minutes has really impressed a lot of people.

The upside here is you can easily go through the scan and continue with shopping as usual, then pick up your replicated model the next time you pay a visit.

The life like models will have an intense personal appeal to shoppers as you can have as many figurines of yourself at different times, holding different memories.

Also considering that $64 is quite an affordable price when compared to the value this service is offering, this is definitely a remarkable service for shoppers.

Check out this YouTube video about the Asda 3D Printing Service, then feel free to share this article with your friends.

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