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3D Printing at Retail Stores

December 10, 2012

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,future — Terry Wohlers @ 10:26

Good friend Deon de Beer of Vaal University of Technology told me something about five weeks ago that got my attention. He said that Incredible Connection, a retail chain of consumer electronics and computer stores in South Africa, had purchased many Fabbster personal 3D printers to sell in its stores. The German designed and built Fabbster product is somewhat like other low-cost material extrusion systems, except that the company supplies material in the form of injection-molded “sticks” instead of plastic filament on a spool. Incredible Connection also has stores in Botswana and Namibia.

About a month later, during the recent EuroMold 2012 in Frankfurt, Germany, the office supply chain Staples announced that it would make 3D-printing services available in stores in the Netherlands and Belgium beginning in Q1 2013 using Mcor’s IRIS product. The Mcor 3D printer uses a paper lamination process to produce shapes. Over the past year, the company introduced the IRIS product with multi-color printing. This is expected to broaden the range of applications for the Mcor product.

The news from Africa and Europe is surprising. Some may see these developments as being more progressive than what is occurring in the U.S. Maybe, but I would not jump too quickly to this conclusion. Organizations in the U.S. are also exploring new channels for reaching new markets. Others are pushing the limits at the high end, especially among aerospace and defense-related organizations. The U.S. is not sitting still.

I wish the very best for Incredible Connection and Staples. It will be interesting to see how average retail customers react to these offerings. I’m not optimistic because I don’t believe the general public is ready for either one. Regardless, I give both companies credit for giving it a shot and for being the first to deliver 3D printing in this way.


  1. I have to agree with Terry’s assessment that these efforts in Africa and Europe to bring this new technology to a mass market through old business models may not click. Some of the efforts here in the US seem to be a better fit. Reading the article, and the fact that non-technical people are constantly bringing up 3D Printing around me, got me to thinking about the retail space and where it is headed.

    Pingback by Retail 3D Printing at the Beginning of 2013 | PADT, Inc. – The Blog — January 16, 2013 @ 09:32

  2. The implications are daunting, but that will not stop progress from taking place. In 10 years, the 3D printer will be a common place appliance.

    Pingback by GeekNutz — March 1, 2013 @ 13:36

  3. […] the implications are daunting, but that will not stop progress from taking place. In 10 years the 3D printer will be a common place […]

    Pingback by TECH PREDICTIONS: #5 – 3D Printers get Cheaper - GeekNutz | GeekNutz — December 14, 2013 @ 08:54