With the sudden closure of MakerBot’s retail stores, one might ask the question, “Is 3D Print Retail Dead?” We think not.
It has been challenging for 3D print retail stores in New York City, a place with plenty of 3D print interest. At one point there were three retail 3D print stores in the area:
- MakerBot’s original retail store
- iMakr’s US expansion store
- 3D Heights in northern NYC
But not only has MakerBot closed, but so has 3D Heights, leaving only iMakr to provide 3D print retail service in the NYC area. We spoke with iMakr founder Sylvain Preumont to find out whether 3D print business is growing or withering.
His answers clearly showed interest is growing significantly, but we think iMakr’s success is mostly due to its many-armed 3D ecosystem they’ve quietly grown over the past few years. Consider these services provided by the company:
- Sales of 3D printers – from many vendors, not exclusively from one vendor. This presents a degree of independence and trustworthiness over what you’d find at a vendor outlet.
- Sales of 3D print supplies of all kinds, including materials, parts, various consumables and more.
- A print-on-demand service, allowing those without 3D printers to access the technology.
- A rapidly growing 3D model sharing site, where models can be purchased, sold or given away freely.
- A 3D printer repair service, where iMakr accepts all types of machines for repair – and sometimes even machines they don’t currently sell!
- A video feed providing information and training for 3D printer use.
- Several in-house training programs on aspects of 3D printing, including some very comprehensive multi-week programs.
- The ability for curious folks to simply drop by and see all this stuff in person.
By combining all these services into a single ecosystem, iMakr has developed a good reputation and has significant repeat business. Preumont noted that many customers are now buying their second or more machines from them. In fact, we’re told their NYC location often provides service to customers distantly located in nearby states; they’ll drive for hours just to get to this particular store.
Preumont described their operation as “a trade show every day”, for people to visit. He added, “Consumers are willing to pay for service and quality.”
So is 3D print retail dead? It appears that is definitely not the case.