Additive Manufacturing Goes Retail

Online shopping is a huge business, just ask Amazon. The success of that particular company contributed to the fall of Borders’ brick and mortar stores, and, no doubt, the early demise of many smaller businesses based in the real world. For many kinds of shopping, online is perfect. The selection is enormous, consumers don’t have to worry about business hours, and they can shop in your PJs.

Not everything is better online, however. Sometimes just seeing a picture or even a video of a new product isn’t the same as eyeballing a potential purchase up close. And don’t forget the sensory angle. You know what to expect with a book or DVD, but tech is different. The lines that form around Apple stores at the launch of a new product suggest that touch experience is still a powerful sales tool.

3D Creations Grand Opening

The grand opening of 3D Creations drew a crowd. Courtesy of 3D Creations.

You can find videos about 3D printing just about anywhere online (we have some here, actually), and read system specs until your eyes get blurry, but additive manufacturing (AM) is very much a tactile and sensory phenomenon. Seeing an AM system at work is not the same as staring at your computer screen. Feeling the strata in a 3D printed object is not the same as staring at a picture of another print of Yoda’s head.

Slowly but surely, AM is moving toward retail store fronts. MakerBot has a store up and running in Manhattan. Mcor Technologies is bringing 3D printing to your nearest Staples. It was only a matter of time before someone opened an independent retail store with a focus on AM. 3D Creations says that time is now.

Jesse DePinto and Matt Juranitch are the duo responsible for bringing AM to the public. Last September they opened 3D Creations at the Shops of Grand Avenue, in Milwaukee. The company has partnered with the previously mentioned MakerBot and TrinityLabs as a reseller of 3D printers that have a price that may be attractive to individuals and small businesses.

3D Creations not only sells printers, but offers support as well.

 Not only can you pick up a printer at our location for the same price as online and eliminate shipping costs, you also receive 2 hours of complimentary training along with free out-of-the-box installation, calibration and debugging. You’ll be designing on Sketchup’s free CAD program and printing from your home or office the same day of your purchase, and you know exactly where to find us if your machine breaks down. Our services include consultation and product design for your custom 3D printing and 3D scanning applications.

After just four months in business, it’s too soon to call the new business a success, but I expect to see more of this kind of store pop up. Until the big box retailers get around to putting 3D printers on the shelves, there’s a window of opportunity for small startups to introduce AM to the public and build a customer base. Particularly in the case of AM, seeing (and touching) is believing.

Below you’ll find a video of 3D Creations grand opening.

Source: 3D Creations

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2 Responses to Additive Manufacturing Goes Retail

  • bonooobong says:

    I wish there were some showrooms and storefronts in Europe as well. I have thought about purchasing an entry-level desktop 3D printer but I want to see it working before, I haven’t felt assured by pictures and youtube videos. I am afraid it’s only popular in the states yet, but I1m looking forward to have some 3D shops in Europe as well.

    • Josh says:

      You can order up parts printed off of makerbots and essentially any desktop 3d printer for a couple dollars off of ebay. Search 3d printer extruder or something like that and you’ll find $15 (USD) can get a set of parts used for building an extruder that was made with that particular extruder. Europe is actually cheaper on some parts. Most desktop printers have the same control systems and extrusion capabilities regardless of what they look like. Also, I’m sure you could send out a part model to someone with a makerbot and ask them if they can build it for you for a few dollars (USD) as well.

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