Asda is the first UK supermarket to offer a 3D printing service, allowing shoppers to order prints, which take only two minutes each to scan, and then pick up their 3D object next time they visit.
The service will launch as a trial on 15 October, with prices starting at £40 a print. Shoppers can print 3D versions of any object - including something the size of a family car - but the object will be scaled down to an 8-inch figure. The figure can be printed and ready to pick up as part of next week's shop.
The 3D-printing process at Asda involves scanner cameras placed around a subject. The cameras scan the entire surface area for a couple of minutes and then recreate the subject in 3D form by spraying a ceramic fluid. The ceramic is built up in thin layers, to a solid object.
Asda expects personalised miniature figurines to be the the most popular 3D item: "Evolving well beyond simply filling frames with photographs of friends and family, 3D printed ‘mini me’ figures will add a whole new dimension to shoppers’ mantelpieces and the lifelike models are also expected to be popular as personalised wedding cake toppers," Asda said in a press release.
The new 3D printing service - which has been in development for the past 18 months under the supervision of American parent company Walmart - is Asda's attempt at making the trendy tech accessible to UK shoppers.
"Since the 3D printing trend travelled over the Atlantic to the UK, it has fast become the latest craze among designers and technology experts," said Asda. "This truly is innovation without limits and Asda hopes to be the first retailer to offer this service nationwide."