Home Depot embraces the 3-D printer trend as it launches in-store sales

The Home Depot (HD) is extending its hand in the growing 3-D printer trend as it debuts MakerBot systems in stores on Monday.

The world’s largest home-improvement store originally offered MakerBot printers on its website three months ago and will extend its availability to 12 stores as part of a pilot project, the companies announced. The launch will include stores in California, Illinois and New York.

“We are continually looking to bring the latest innovation to our customers,” Joe Downey, merchant for Home Depot, said in a statement. “MakerBot 3-D printers are yet another great technology that can serve particular needs of specific customers.”

The decision is part of a forward-looking plan as Home Depot bets on the at-home product printer’s appeal to contractors and home improvement enthusiasts. The MakerBots can output parts and supplies to be used for repairs, such as U-clips and pipe-stakes. It could also be leveraged by architects and interior designers to create product prototypes.

This disruptive technology was primarily the concern of niche engineers and hobbyists and is now moving into the mainstream, but the $1,375 starting price point puts it in reach of many everyday buyers.

MakerBot, which is a subsidiary of Statasys (SSYS), also provides an online community where novices can discover, create and share 3-D printable files, making it easier for users to create physical objects from day one.

Home Depot has set up specially-designed kiosks that will show visitors how the 3-D printers work and trained MakerBot staff will provide continual demonstrations, offering printed keepsakes for interested customers.

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