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March 20, 2014 AT 12:45 am

#3DThursday Explores the Explosion of Brick-and-Mortar #3DPrinting #3DxRetail Stores Worldwide!

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3DxRetail: This week for #3DThursday, I’ll highlight the recent explosion in desktop 3D printer brick-and-mortar retail stores — sharing a scattering of these unusual locations from all across the world. While many locations consider it essential to declare themselves the first (or first for their region) and other superlatives, time will tell which particular version of this phenomena will be sustainable and hold the interest of the public.

  • Will it be the high street boutique model, displaying a small smattering of printers and printed parts perched on pedestals around architecturally-forward interiors — like perfume, estate jewelry, or rare collectible sneakers?
  • Will the craft and hobby model take hold — places packing densely with the tools, paints, and other accessories local regulars crave to help them produce and finish their printed creations, much like you might have seen in the thriving scale model and dollhouse specialty stores a decade ago, before online and fast shipping from catalogs killed off all but the hardiest shops?
  • Will the service bureau model from the 90s be granted new life — where local businesses can get bids for not only the use of the machines, but also, even more precious, the expertise of the in-house fabrication designers and technicians?
  • Or maybe the best value per square foot requires the elimination of all of this overhead, following the lead of the mobile phone and automotive industries to create barebones and pop-up local showrooms where paid-by-commission salesmen transform the merely curious into “3D printer operators” by putting them “behind the wheel” of the very latest, next-year’s-model machines?

Thankfully, there appears to be enough interest and enough pioneering spirit that solving the 3DxRetail mystery could still be anyone’s game!


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Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!

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The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!


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