Stratasys Ltd. said Monday it will sell its MakerBot 3-D printers in a dozen Home Depot stores and on the retailer's website as part of a plan to extend the technology's appeal beyond corporations to consumers.
Through the agreement, Home Depot will be the first major retailer to sell a line of 3-D printers in-store. The machines — which make 3-D plastic objects — will be available in six locations in California, four in Chicago and two in New York.
"We are thrilled to partner with the Home Depot to help bring MakerBot 3-D printing technology to ... Home Depot customers," MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis said in a statement. "We can't wait to see what Home Depot customers make with our products."
MakerBot's 3-D printers and scanners will be displayed in special kiosks it has designed for Home Depot; MakerBot representatives will work inside Home Depot stores to introduce the technology to shoppers.
To date, consumers have been able to buy MakerBot 3-D printers and parts on the company's website (makerbot.com) and in three MakerBot stores on the East Coast. They also can use the equipment to make 3-D objects inside select UPS stores nationwide.
But the Home Depot launch will offer even greater exposure, especially if the MakerBot products end up in the retailer's stores nationwide. Traditionally, 3-D printers have been used in manufacturing to make parts.
"This is the first time the Home Depot has offered 3-D printers for sale in its stores," said MakerBot spokeswoman Jenifer Howard. Under the agreement, MakerBot will sell its Replicator Mini Compact 3-D Printer for $1,375 and its MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer for $2,899.
Home Depot Merchant Manager Joe Downey said Home Depot was interested in MakerBot because its technology is intriguing. "We are continually looking to bring the latest innovation to our customers," he said.
While the Home Depot partnership is limited and features only two products, Richfield-based Best Buy has taken a different approach in introducing manufacturing machines to consumers.
Best Buy has offered four different brands of 3-D printers on its website for a little over a year, said Best Buy spokeswoman Carly Charlson. Prices range from $980 to $1,600. "It's a relatively new technology, especially in the consumer space," Charlson said. "You would not necessarily think of Best Buy for manufacturing technology, but at the same time, we are Best Buy and so we believe in having the latest and greatest."
Charlson said Best Buy also sells competing brands such as Afinia, Flashforge, Solidoodle, and BuMat.
Regardless of competitors, MakerBot's expansion into Home Depot is the latest coup for Stratasys,which bought Brooklyn, N.Y.-based MakerBot for $403 million last year and now runs it as a separate division.
Stratasys, which caters mainly to large commercial and industrial companies in need of quick prototypes and components, bought three other 3-D printing companies in April in Wisconsin, Texas and California. Last month it expanded its MakerBot consumer operations in Japan with a line of new products.
In the last year, MakerBot also has partnered with school systems across the United States and now has its 3-D printers in high schools and colleges nationwide.
Stratasys officials said in May that the company is on pace to reach $660 million to $680 million in sales by year's end.