As part of a pilot program (pdf link), the 3D printers will be sold and demonstrated in 12 stores throughout California, Illinois and New York. Home Depot started selling the printers on its website three months ago. The latest generation of the Replication, the new Replicator Mini and MakerBot’s Digitizer 3D scanner are available from Home Depot at their suggested retail prices.
Of course, simply selling a MakerBot printer is not enough. If 3D printers are to become mainstream, their capabilities need to be demonstrated and that’s part of the plan here. At each of the Home Depot locations, the MakerBot printers will be given prime real estate and staffed with retail associates trained in 3D printing and able to print 3D doodads to give away to prospective customers.
MakerBot printers are also available at Microsoft Stores and Micro Center Stores. However, this move into Home Depot should introduce 3D printing to a decidedly different demographic largely unaware of the advantages and limitations associated with 3D printing.
3D printing itself will not replace home centers like Home Depot. But soon, the capabilities of 3D printing will be mature enough that the retailer can simply point customers to the devices if they do not stock some obscure item. “Need an odd hinge? Print it yourself!”