The futuristic 3D printing phenomenon has finally landed in UK retailers, but independents are skeptical about their future.
Maplin and Selfridges are among the first chains to take the plunge and stock the devices, which can print 3D objects out of plastic.
The Velleman K8200 3D printing kit – available now from Maplin – is priced at £699.99 and uses special computer software to work. Meanwhile, Selfridges will sell several devices within a 3D printing pop-up store in its Oxford Street store this Christmas.
Additionally, the MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner, which scans real life objects and transforms them into 3D printing models, is also headed to the High Street. UK retailers can stock it via specialist distributors Reprap Central and Robosavvy.
But independent IT retailers and resellers aren’t convinced about the value 3D printers offer.
Kim Hayton, manager of Triarom, told PCR: “I hear that 3D printers are going to become a household thing, but I don’t see households or businesses having them. They’re not going to have multiple uses day in day out. If we were to look at 3D printing, we’d only get one so we could produce things in-store for customers as a service.”
Daniel Micklethwait, general manager at Knutsford IT, added: “They’re specialist. There are probably clients we have that could have a 3D printer, for exampe R&D companies.
“But if anyone wanted one in that specialist niche area, they’d buy one themselves rather than heading to their nearby computer store.
“3D printers are expensive and technical to use, but it’s certainly an interesting area.”