It’s possible that custom minifigure printing will be coming to LEGO stores very soon.
A Facebook post on the AFOL’s of Facebook group(closed group) by Jakob Peterhänsel shared the post by Jens Hjorth about a ongoing trial at Lego Brand Retail Store in Copenhagen, Denmark. It is a two day trial that started yesterday (19th June 2018) and will continue and end today. Mr. Hjorth mentions that this trial was 18 months in the making.
The setup seems to be simple but quite a big space is needed with a printing machine, a screen for customization viewing/editing and probably a front facing queuing table.
Customization screen: Mr Hjorth explains that there will be preset graphics to choose from and it is possible to change the letters and colours of the print at the screen and both sides of the torso(front and back) are seen to be customizable.
A view of the printer shows that there are multiple white Polyoxymethylene (POM) holding jigs(for the minifigs to lie on) We count at least 25 jigs so it’s possible that they will be processed in batches of 25 and then second process involves flipping minifigures to the back and printing them again (Based on Mr.Hjorth’s Facebook profile, he is a specialist at Roland DG, so we assume that this is a variant of their UV flatbed printer like this one)
Samples of the finished product are shown at the customization area and it looks as if the current trials area done using plain white torsos.
Since this is just in the trial phase, there is no word if this will become a reality in the future or whether it will only be available in selected stores. Printing options also look to be fairly limited to pre-designed templates and probably copyright limitations prevent self designed prints but this shows that LEGO is working on making something happen.
Although custom printing on minifigures has been done by individuals for a very long time, we are definitely excited about this development as it would bring the realm of custom printing to the masses.