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JOANN Unveils 3D Laser Tech For In-Store Product Customization

JOANN Unveils 3D Laser Tech For In-Store Product Customization

JOANN is rolling out 3D laser printer/cutter technology in select stores as part of its investment in 3D printing startup Glowforge. Terms of the investment were not disclosed. The fabric and crafts retailer currently offers 3D laser cutting and engraving in the JOANN Custom Shop in the Natick Mall outside of Boston; the in-mall kiosk offers custom framing in addition to laser cutting and engraving.

The announcement comes a week after JOANN launched MyFabric, a service that allows shoppers to customize designer patterns on different fabrics. Eventually, customers will be able to upload their own designs to be printed on JOANN fabrics.

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Instead of making objects out of plastic strands, the Glowforge technology uses a laser to quickly cut and engrave products made from raw materials like leather, paper, plastic, fabric or cardboard, all with the push of a button.

With Glowforge, shoppers can start with a hand-drawn image and use software like Photoshop or clip art to 3D print a file using a cloud-based app. Users can preview the results and drag the images around on their chosen material to position them as they prefer.

Shoppers also can access the Glowforge 3D technology in the retailer’s Columbus, Ohio concept store, which already offers a number of other DIY technologies and machines: a “Craft Creator,” a touchscreen kiosk based on Pinterest projects, and a “Cut Bar” experience that allows customers to “check in” and continue shopping until a text message alerts them that a team member is ready to cut their fabric.

“JOANN has become much more than a place where people buy things, and we know crafters want more options like this,” said Stephen Caution, VP of Business Development at JOANN in a statement. “We’re not only looking at our stores as places to sell crafts and fabrics, but also as destinations customers can come to for advice, inspiration, education and sharing. By offering new custom technologies like Glowforge and services like those in our concept store, we are building an experience our customers have told us they want.”

The machines will roll out to other JOANN stores across the 865-store chain in 2019, and also will be made available for custom online orders.

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