This could be big news for 3D printing of all types: iMakr intends on opening up 40 new 3D print retail shops across the globe.
It’s actually a franchise arrangement, whereby local entrepreneurs can gain iMakr’s expertise, brand and processes for deployment in a regional setting. This leverages the experience iMakr has gained over the past five years of operation.
The company currently operates two “flagship” stores, one in London, the other in Manhattan. We’ve visited both stores and found them quite interesting: they are not simply resellers of equipment, but instead provide supplies, repairs, training and other 3D print-related services, such as 3D scanning and specialty printing.
iMakr says they expect franchisees to open 20 stores in 2018 and “the same in 2019”, totaling 40 stores. We don’t yet know where these stores will be located, as it entirely depends on who steps forward as franchisees, and whether they can come to an agreement with iMakr to pay for the franchise package. Obviously, we don’t know the details of the franchise package, but it might include such things as:
- The right to use iMakr’s brand, processes and web services
- Get in on volume purchase deals of manufacturers’ equipment for resale
- Centralized support services of some kind
- One time or ongoing payments from the franchisee to iMakr
- Payments might take the form of a percentage of sales
You get the idea, but essentially this should result in iMakr 3D print stores appearing in a large number of locations worldwide. And with that size of buying power, I’d expect them to offer good pricing on equipment and materials as well.
The timing of this announcement is extremely interesting. As you know, iMakr appeared first in 2012 with their London shop. When I visited it in 2013, it took the form of a “consumer 3D print store”, with basic equipment offered, as well as a series of introductory training courses for consumer newbies.
But like many in the 3D printing industry, they were caught in the consumer crash of 2014 and had to do a bit of a business pivot. In recent years we’ve seen iMakr slowly change their product lineup from exclusively desktop / hobby style 3D printers towards far more powerful professional and even industrial units. Today their product lineup includes not only basic plastic extrusion units, but also SLA and even SLS 3D printers, many suitable for professional use.
Accordingly, iMakr says:
iMakr has grown by 150% over the last two years. This tremendous success has been made possible by iMakr’s unique blend of assets: a world-class brand, an ability to deliver innovation, an unparalleled engineering expertise and a true understanding of the 3D printing industry.
To me this says everything about the shift in interest by the 3D printing marketplace: the money is for professional equipment, and that’s exactly what iMakr has positioned for. And they seem to have figured out how to deliver to that market at this point, at least sufficient enough to consider a massive expansion. They believe they have the “formula” to address professional needs, and they’re going for it, globally.
If they’re successful, we will soon see professionals have access to proven 3D print sales, support and service in many cities. But which ones? Here’s my guess as to the 40 locations that might end up with an iMakr store:
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
- Sao Paulo
- Tel Aviv
- Mexico City
- San Diego
Who did I miss?
If successful, this could open up a wealth of 3D printing knowledge, equipment, networking and much more to millions more people than who have access today. The effect on the 3D printing world could be significant, as anyone exposed to the technology through these stores might then move on to bigger things.
Good luck to iMakr!