ABB robot 3D printing machine uses upcycled Parley Ocean Plastic to create range of designer items.

ABB Robotics Showcases Future of Retail Using Recovered Marine Plastic at London’s Selfridges | French: ABB Robotics présente l'avenir de la vente au détail en utilisant du plastique marin récupéré au Selfridges de Londres

With the goal of creating consumer awareness on the role of robots in retail, Selfridges, a chain of high-end department stores in the United Kingdom, has showcased a robot 3D printing machine in a pop-up store. The experimentation is taking place throughout the month of April on the Oxford Street, in London. 

The “earth-conscious shop of the future” is called Supermarket, and features among others, a 2.3-meter high ABB 3D printing robot, which prints a variety of personalised designer objects made from Parley Ocean Plastic. The latter is a plastic material that comes from marine debris collected through Parley’s Global Cleanup network. 

While expanded choice is great for consumers, it also comes at a cost to the environment, with products and packaging often being discarded with little thought about where they end up or whether they get recycled,” Marc Segura, ABB’s robotics division president, said. “By re-using plastic from the world’s oceans to print designer objects, we help to highlight the important contribution of robots in creating the sustainable manufacturing processes central to a circular economy.”

In the industry, the global technology company ABB is often known for the development of multi-axis robotic 3D printers. If you are a regular reader of 3D ADEPT Media, you may already have seen the company’s technology highlighted in the construction of the “throne”. In this specific case, the project is also an opportunity for the company to demonstrate the potential robots have in getting customers in the door and enhancing the retail experience.

Robots are increasingly used to help draw customers back to the high street,” said Segura. “We believe that future adoption will be influenced by three main trends including micro-fulfilment, where robots are used in-store to enable order fulfilment and delivery; personalization, where a robot makes a product to a customer’s specific requirements, with the added option of automatic personalization where data on previous purchasing habits is used to offer new choices; and ‘retailtainment,’ where the robot is used as part of an interactive display or show to inform or entertain customers.”

The demonstration requires the use of ABB’s simulation software RobotStudio and an IRB 6700 robot to fabricate a variety of printed furniture, homeware, and other objects. The machine works with design brand Nagami’s unique plastic extruder to print the objects and the objects can be selected by customers on a screen and made to order on the premises.

The ability to introduce robots into their stores both behind and in front of the counter offers exciting opportunities for retailers,” concluded Marc Segura. “By using robots to handle in-store micro-fulfilment operations, staff can be released to people-facing roles, allowing them to focus more on providing customers with a better all-round experience.

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