I have a theory… The price for 3D printers is now coming in range for most middle class households. Given the public obsession with tech, we might expect a lot more people taking up the interest. A big barrier to accessing this market is still going to exist though due to the technical expertise required. Is the time right to start seeing retail 3D printers / repair shops opening? Stores like these could provide a “geek squad” like solution for that market. Would you be a customer? I’d like to hear some community thoughts.

Isn’t the money in it to do a repair business with actual overheads like rent etc

It would depend on the location and if you are just selling, fixing, and maintaining 3D printers. With your area just like any others you would have to put out feelers to see if there is enough need for a retail location or more of an on-site service style company. I work for YNG LLC, which is a R&D company at it’s heart and we have a retail 3D printing/ prototyping location in Rensselaer, Indiana.

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I agree on not relying on repairs alone. Other revenue channels would be needed but totally possible.

I started a company in CT a year ago and we do everything 3D. From sales of printers and products to custom printer builds. There is definitely a market for it. If anyone is interested in getting started or what we do please visit our website Dreamspace3dprinting.com or email me at Dreamspace3dprinting@gmail.com

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Are you finding an upward trend in customers? And do you have an online storefront?

Awesome. I’ll be in touch

We basically have to sell ourselves outright. No one knows what we do, they go Oooo cool 3d printing, then walk away. We have to grab them bring them back and say no this will help you

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I’m seeing a great reaction when I show them toys and small figurines then pull out a useful customized dog brush I printed. I then go on to talk about how the printers can pay for themselves now through their usefulness.

3D printers themselves are cool tech for sure. There’s no problem with the product. However, the issue is what to do with them. We’re comfortable in this forum because we know what’s involved. But look at the massive failures of Home Depot and others who have tried to introduce 3D printing to the masses.

There’s a gap. A big one.

How does Joe Consumer get what’s in his head onto a 3D printer? Sure, there are millions of models on Thingiverse. But what about those people who want something that’s not on Thingiverse? They have no idea where to start. There are tools to help these people. Free applications like OnShape or Sketchup are a great start but even there it takes aptitude to get going. Some folks just don’t have what it takes to think spatially.

So, what about those people? The 'uge market that is untapped? Perhaps someday 3D scanners will be sophisticated enough to take something that’s scanned and make an accurate 3D model that won’t require any touch-up. There are things like that now, but really only for organic shapes (like people). What if you want to scan a broken knob and have it accurately reproduced? Today that means you either scan it in and use the scanned model as a guide to trace around it or you get out the calipers and measure.

Retail tried over the last year or two to get consumers interested. They took the bait initially, but those printers now sit idle in some corner for the most part. The vision, of course, is Star Trek-style replicators that respond to voice commands. That’s coming. No doubt about it. But it’s a long way off. In the meantime, I think guys like Dreamspace 3D Printing, Voodoo, my company (Proto-Plastik) and a host of others are going to fill the gap by providing a Kinko’s style boutique service (maybe you don’t know what Kinko’s was ;))

My advice would be to build a service center where folks can go to get 3D printed services: parts, training, printers, etc.


As more people find out about us we are getting more and more business from people bringing in parts to be fixed (not 3D printers) and showing that we are able to re-make parts that they can’t find (ranging from antique phones to lawn equipment) or have to order from overseas and wait… Right now we have seen a major up tick in custom parts and repairs/upgrades for everything from cars to house hold items. One of our advantages is our Large format 3D printer that we developed and sell since some of what we have come in is a lot of little items that need to be made fast or large items for a customer (especially when you are talking car parts). Right now in our shop we have 7 printers that are running most all of the time.

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Price alone doesn’t mean something is ready for retail or better yet the retail masses. Think about what the cost of hand and power tools is today? That hasn’t created a glut of electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and craftsman has it? The public’s obsession with purchasing and having the latest tech is just about their own consumption not them being tinkerers or creators.

All that being said could the printers and tinkerers of the world use a new “Radio Shack”? The “Print Shack”? I’d probably get all my filament and upgrades there.

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Well said… Personally I am unconvinced that average Joe will have one of these in his house in a few years. Even if you make a perfect machine that can run with no errors and in a timely manner, it all starts with a 3d design. I think it’s going to develop into a trade running parallel with machinist and tool maker… I believe they will be industrial machines


Kinkos is a fantastic reference by the way

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The barrier is as you identified it … the real opportunity however is in selling curriculum and teaching… the public will experiment with the printers in maker spaces before they buy …

I teach a printing class at a makerspace in CT, trust me there is no money in it. How do you sell a class that no one has any idea what they are paying to learn. Then you need to sell it at a price to make your time worth it. I do it because I love this stuff, not for the money

Very nice. Have you looked into the hangprinter project? I want to do something similar in terms of focusing on providing sizable prints but for decor, event displays, etc. v. Car parts.

i indeed do run a service in the UK that will firstly teach you how to use 3d creation software (by webinar) will offer suggestions on the beniefts of software licencing (which are free, which are effective), will build a machine to your requirements ( not mine). Will totally guide you through the process of CNC manufacture. At the end the client should have the best understanding of the subject and the most cost effective solution to their needs. Now I know in this mass productive world, that does not sit very well with the buy cheap and throwaway culture, but this is surley the epitome of the term “prototype”, i.e. you have to be aware of whats in front of you before you can make a decisicion whether to purchase . " Cart before the horse" syndrome, I think is apt here. What you speak of sirs does already exsist. Whether people want to do it that way I leave to the general buying public. But I will say this, would you buy a tractor to drive to the shops in, no, you would buy a car and learn to drive first. What I an saying if you bought a tractor you wouldn’t need to go to the shops, you would have learned all about agriculture and you would be growing your own food. StevetheBuddistXXX owner of ACIS TECH 3D LTD UK. :slight_smile:

Definitely! That’s why I have been teaching a class at a community college here for the past 3 years titled “Build your own 3D printer” :slight_smile:

It has been very popular but what I’ve found is that some folks are just absolutely not cut out for this. I’m also a Certified Solidworks Instructor and have been teaching SolidWorks for over 10 years. It’s clear to me that there is still too much ‘engineer-y’ stuff that people can’t grasp. Not everyone is cut out for this at such a low level.

Some printer manufacturers have tried to address this by using cloud-based slicing/printing solutions (Astroprint) and simple Boolean based modelers, but it’s not enough. Not yet.

There needs to be a solution that abstracts all the engineering components in a way that anyone can use it and create anything they want (not just what’s available on a website).

The day is coming. We are all the foundation of that. But it’s going to take some time.

I wouldn’t say ‘no money’. There’s ‘very little money’. I have a problem with Maker Spaces. They promise so much but deliver so little except to a passionate few and those guys can’t carry the whole thing.

There is an opportunity to be more focused. A 3D printing-only maker space might be more viable than a “sure, make whatever the hell you want we’ve got all kinds of tools and shit”. That’s too much for a scatterbrained maker.