As the number of applications for 3D printing continues to rapidly expand, and prices for the hardware drop like a rock, we are beginning to see printers being offered in some of the more popular retail stores around the globe. Although not a mainstream technology quite yet, the market for desktop 3D printers will continue to see substantial growth in the years ahead.
That makes this the perfect time for larger retail chains, such as Staples, to begin testing pilot programs to offer such machines within their stores. Staples, with over 2,000 stores across 26 different countries worldwide, has already taken a fancy to the technology. In April of last year they began offering 3D printing services in two of their more trafficked locations in New York City and Los Angeles. Additionally, last November the company began selling MakerBot 3D printers and scanners in 50 select Staples retail locations in 18 different states throughout the US.
In another move to expand their presence within the 3D printing market, Staples this weekend announced a partnership with Gemany’s leading 3D printer distributor, iGo3D. As a part of this collaboration between the two companies, iGo3D will be setting up a ‘store in a store’ within the Hamburg, Germany Staples location.
“As iGo3D has the longest 3D printing retail and exclusive distributorship experience in the EU market (we have offices and retail stores in Germany, Russia, Poland, Netherlands and soon in Portugal) – STAPLES asked us for a complete all-in-one solution for their own retail 3d-printing approach,” Michael Sorkin, CEO of iGo3D, told 3DPrint.com.
This will initially be a pilot program in which iGo3D will set up within a 15-square-meter space within the Hamburg Staples location. Within this area will be numerous 3D printers for sale, which include brands such as Zortrax, Ultimaker, XYZPrinting, and BEETHEFIRST, as well as experienced professionals who are able to provide advice and answer questions that customers may have. Additionally there will be a full-body scanner called the “Shrinkster” set up, allowing customers who are interested to get themselves scanned in 3 dimensions. Customers will then have the opportunity to purchase a 3D printed ‘mini-me’ of themselves starting at just €99.
Sokin tells us that after about 6 months this partnership will expand to other locations throughout Germany. Following the German roll out, they will then, over the next year, expand the store in a store concept to Staples locations throughout Europe, and possibly even turn their attention to the United States.
“We have made a non-limited deal with STAPLES in order to establish fixed shop-in-shop systems in their retail stores. They requested this kind of complete retail solution from us,” explained Sorkin.
It will be interesting to watch as this program possibly expands globally in the year ahead, and how other office supply chains react to this move. The first iGo3D store in a store will open on April 1 in Hamburg. Let us know if you have checked it out. Discuss in the iGo3D/Staples forum thread on 3DPB.com.