First was MakerBot's single retail store experiment in downtown NYC, then 3D Systems struck a deal with Staples to offer the Cube 3D printer in all Staples stores. Now we see another retail example: UK electronics retailer Maplin now carries a 3D printer kit, the Velleman K8200.
We'll look at the Velleman another day, but for now it's most interesting to see the rapid spread of 3D printing to more retail environments. With each deal, 3D printing becomes increasingly accessible to more people. Between Staples and Maplins there are thousands of stores and tens of millions of people who, in theory, could simply walk into a neighborhood shop and pick up a 3D printer at the low price of £699.99 (USD$1046).
One catch with Maplin's offering: the K8200 is a kit. Assembling a complex 3D printer is a task well beyond most of the general public, but perhaps Maplin knows something we don't. Regardless of the difficulty, Maplin seems to be sold out at this time.
Observation: in Maplin's online listing for the K8200 there is a tab for "Related Items". Within it you'll see a couple of spools of filament, very appropriate. But you'll also see a couple of All-In-One 2D paper printers.
Retail hasn't quite caught up to 3D printing yet.