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'World's Largest 3D Printing Store' Comes To The Big Apple

Jim Probasco

Sylvain Preumont, CEO of startup iMakr, opened iMakr’s first 3D printing and 3D printing services store in London a year ago.

Now Preumont, who spoke with Benzinga by telephone, has opened his second store -– this one in New York.

From Online To Storefront

Many if not most products available in the retail market started out in brick and mortar stores before making their way to the Internet. Just about any product you can buy on Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN), for example, was first available in a brick and mortar store.

Not so with 3D printing technology, which was born of and on the Internet -– even though 3D printers are real objects.

Birth Of An Idea

The realization that most people want "hands on" experience, especially with new technology like 3D printing, inspired Preumont to launch the London iMakr store.

According to Preumont, “Most people are not willing to spend one to three thousand dollars for something they can only view online.”

Related Link: 5 Companies That Just Might Object To 3D Printed Food

Hands On Training

Seeing and touching 3D printers is only part of iMakr’s business. The stores offer a number of classes and training sessions for beginners, starting as low as $30.

They even conduct teacher training sessions designed to help educators find ways to integrate 3D technology into their curriculum. An educational conference is also being planned for the future.

IMakr Is Different

When asked if iMakr’s original London store was the first ever brick and mortar 3D printer store, Preumont noted that Stratasys (NASDAQ: SSYS) -owned Makerbot actually opened a 3D printing store in 2012.

Preumont, however, drew a distinction between iMakr and Makerbot, noting that the latter sells only its own 3D printers, and the store operates as a showroom. iMakr’s stores, he said, are true retail establishments, selling 3D printers and supplies from many manufacturers.

Related Link: 5 Cool Items To Buy From The Amazon 3D Printing Store

So Far, So Good

When asked if the storefront concept in New York had been well received so far, Preumont said, “Reception has been excellent. We are super happy.”

Preumont added that as novel as the idea of a brick and mortar 3D printer store sounds, it wasn’t a surprise to many people coming into the New York store. “People are saying they were expecting it to happen,” he noted.

Changing Customer Base

Perhaps as a reflection of overall changes taking place in the 3D printing space, Preumont said at first customers were made up mostly of jewelers, designers and other professionals. Now, however, he is seeing parents come in looking to buy a machine for their kids because they see 3D printing as the wave of the future.

Expansion Plans

When asked if more iMakr stores were in the works, Premont said his standard answer is “One store at a time.”

It may be a bit soon to envision as many iMakr stores as there are Office Depot (NYSE: ODP) locations, but if 3D printing grows to anywhere near the $16.2 billion Canalys predicts for the U.S. alone by 2018, the iMakr logo could become much more familiar.

At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco  had no position in any mentioned securities.

See more from Benzinga

© 2014 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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