This week, The UPS Store announced that it would be the first nationwide retailer to test 3D printing services in-store. According to the press release, “Select UPS Store locations will be offering the services to start-ups, small businesses and retail customers, beginning in the San Diego area with locations in additional cities across the United States in the near future.” The UPS Store has 4,300 franchised locations in the USA, mostly located in retail centers.According to a study conducted by The UPS Store, small business owners showed “high interest” in using 3D printing services to create prototypes, artistic renderings, and promotional materials. To meet that need The UPS Store will offer in-house 3D design services and 3D printing in-store. They’ll start producing jobs in plastic on equipment provided by Stratasys, but if history is any guide (think digital printing) and the test of the service is successful, it’s possible they would expand their production capability to other substrates, build sizes, and finishing options.While the press release states that The UPS Store will be the first nationwide retailer to test 3D printing, it also means that UPS will be the first major shipping company to adopt the technology – and the implications for that part of the company’s business could be profound. Think for a moment about the impact document faxing, scanning, desktop publishing and other digital technologies had on the US Postal Service. While the USPS largely ignored those innovations, companies like Mail Boxes, Etc. (The UPS Store’s predecessor) embraced them, offering those services in-store. Could 3D printing have a similar impact on the shipment of things? If so, UPS seems determined not to repeat the mistakes of the postal service.