Monday, July 28, 2014

I haven't talked about 3D printing in a while.

I've been pretty much sitting out the printer wars because it's unclear which type of printer will rise to the top. MakerBot is well funded, but some of the other technologies have better resolution.

A couple of weeks ago I read that MakerBot was going to start selling their printers in a select few Home Depots around the Bay Area. I was super happy they'd finally made it into a bricks and mortar store - but I was also super confused about their selection of stores and the roll-out generally. The stores are in Emeryville, East Palo Alto and San Carlos. None of these cities are tops on my list to drive to for any sort of technology. It's notable that Emeryville and East Palo Alto each have an Ikea. I go to San Carlos when I need granite or tile. And they have some pretty bad ass restaurants there.

At any rate I had to go to one of the stores and see it for myself. Because my first question is - how are you going to get Home Depot customers to buy a printer that forces you to learn CAD or MakerWare before you can use it. Has anyone at Makerbot ordered anything that had to be designed from a Home Depot store. Their computer system is kind dinsouric.

*Just this year* the tipping point finally came and all the contractors finally figured out that texting was extremely efficient and made their clients less pissed when they are late. Because they all are late. I about died earlier in the year when I booked a contractor via text only. I never once talked to the guy before he got to the rental. He showed up on time, and did a great job.

But may build things - but I'm pretty sure a lot of them are still on AOL. It's about the only time I remember AOL is still alive is when a contractor hands me a business card with his email address on it.

At any rate, the whole thing confuses me. Contractors aren't the most tech savvy in general. In my estimation. And Makerbot has to find a way to bridge the gap with the software portion of 3D printing. And Home Depot is a weird place to do that I think. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.


  1. The biggest expense that we have for our arcade business is gas (deliveries) our second largest vendor is Home Depot. Makes plenty of sense to me. If you're refurbishing anything, you can either wait 3 weeks for it to be back ordered or you can print and replica. Palo Alto and Emeryville are both tech hubs, San Carlos makes less sense, but maybe they're trying to get a gauge on whether or not they see success in non-tech hubs so they picked a construction hub as a test pilot instead. I'm not sure about the software, but I know that there are already a few vendors in the arcade industry who are building kits. Spend $100 for a new Terminator gun or spend $20 on over priced plastic for the broken trigger you need to rebuild it? it's a no brainer, they're staying busy to say the least. DF

  2. Assuming there is a replica database with your particular part in there.

    Otherwise you are going to have to built it yourself in CAD. I installed the MakeWare software a couple of weeks ago and forgot about it. Now that I've played with it for a few minutes - It looks to only import images to be printed. That's a little like releasing a game console without many games. This will grow over time I'm sure...and they do
    have the digitizer to scan objects. However this was not at the store and I don't know how much it costs. I've only seen it once at a conf.

    Palo Alto is a tech hub - EAST Palo Alto is not. However you helped kinda solve the riddle of why these stores. Swank Palo Alto doesn't have a Home Depot, you have to go to EPA or Menlo Park. Berkeley also is douchey enough not to have an evil big box store. So they probably chose the Emeryville location. San Carlos is the next closest store to Palo Alto.

    Being able to build things in real life, and knowing how to model those same things in the computer space are actually pretty different skill sets. When you only have makers and tinkerers, you can have a limited data
    base. When you are at a giant store - customers have different
    expectations. I'm super curious how it will work out. Maybe I'm
    completely wrong.

    Hey - did you happen to see ThiS

  3. Oakland just deregulated pins too. I wish I could say it helped us but we engineered our business model around the bans from the start. Still cool to see, there are a couple of barcades opening up in sf soon. I can definitely tell you that the popularity of the games is on the up. Whole games have doubled in price and parts have trippled since our a year ago. We do a bulk buy with our earnings every 3 months and still can't fill demand. It's a lot of fun, can't wait until we can claim the record for the largest collection. Who knew that there was gold in all this junk. I'm not sure how the repro guys are getting their files but they jealously guard them. We usually have original parts to compare with because of our volume. Most of our games have multiple copies that we rent out. If we can master the scanning and production aspects I bet we could generate six figures a year off one of those printers, if we only had the time . .

  4. I have to admit, nothing makes me happier than when people surprise me. I wasn't sure how you were going to make all that work. But you are scrappy. I'm really glad it's working for you.