iMakr opened an office in Copenhagen, but this is just another step on their unusual 3D print journey.
The company is one of the elder 3D print resellers, having been founded well over ten years ago. But their inception was quite a bit different than where they are today.
Back then the buzz was all about the new phenomenon of desktop 3D printers. These mysterious “replicator” devices were apparently able to “make anything”, according to promoters at the time, and that thought stuck with many people, even to this day.
It wasn’t quite true, but the 3D printers then were able to do some amazing things, just not quite “anything”.
The problem, however, was that it was difficult for individuals to purchase a 3D printer. They were not sold in stores, and were only available by ordering online. While online ordering is routine today, it was not so a decade ago. People wanted to see and touch products before buying them.
This presented a problem for the 3D printer manufacturers, who didn’t see sufficient demand to open up their own retail stores where people could examine equipment up close.
That barrier was broken by iMakr, who opened one of the very first true retail stores dedicated to 3D printing for consumers. Visitors could look at prints, ask questions and get all the support they required.
iMakr’s first retail store was located in London, where I paid them a visit in 2014. Their second retail location was in New York City, where they opened a similar operation A visit there in 2015 found them training people in the skill of 3D printing. These stores sold new desktop 3D printers to consumers, and even repaired broken machines. At one point, the company intended on opening 40 retail locations worldwide.
Then something happened. The shine came off the notion of consumer 3D printing and worldwide everyone in the 3D print industry had to change. The expected rush of consumer sales was not to be, simply because of inadequate equipment, content, difficulties to use the technology and applications.
All 3D print companies, including iMakr, had to think fast and make a change. Some companies focused on particular application areas that were more profitable, such as the education market. Others shifted towards professionals and manufacturers. Some companies didn’t change and ultimately faded away.
iMakr made the switch towards the professional market, and succeeded. They initially used their former consumer retail locations as a base for this transition, but eventually shifted their operations to more suitable locations for that market.
Their transformation worked very well, and today they are one of the leading resellers of professional 3D printing equipment.
Since the transition, they have been able to open another office in Paris, and this week they announced yet another office in Copenhagen, along with a new iMakr Nordic website. Looking at the building, it’s about as far as you can come from a storefront retail location as you can get.
That’s how it goes in business: you start with one idea, and pivot to another that works.