Inside the MakerBot Store: Let your 3D-printed geek flags fly

MakerBot Industries, one of the pioneer commercial 3D printing companies, opened a retail store in NoHo, New York this past week. We decided to stop by to check out their new 3D printer, the Replicator 2, and see how the store is doing at its new home in the trendy downtown neighborhood.

Located at 298 Mulberry Street, the MakerBot store packs several Replicator 2’s along the north end of the wall, working away at their bigger and badder creations. Sample printed items are also scattered along the shelves, such as a visually stunning 3D head and various sizes of a squirrel model. The back wall contains all the different color filaments used in the Replicator 2, allowing the shop to print almost anything in any shade.

A quick chat with one of the store clerks verifies that the foot traffic the store has received since its grand opening last Thursday contains a mix of curious tourists and MakerBot fans. “It’s about 50/50 at this point,” the clerk says. “Most people come in and buy one of the [capsule toys with miniature 3D printed model inside].” This isn’t surprising, considering MakerBot machines run anywhere from $1,000 to $2,200 for the newest desktop 3D printer. Other items for sale include plastic filaments and a few commercial 3D printed gadgets, such as a MakerBot MixTape — an old school-meets-new technology way to send your crush a mixtape, just like high school kids used to a few decades ago.

One patron who goes by Roger says he’s been a fan of MakerBot since its inception, and was excited to see the store finally come to life. Never having printed any models of his own, it was fun for him to see the company grow commercially and watch from the sideline as MakerBot becomes more and more accessible to fans like him.

“I’ve done some 3D modeling,” he says, but admits to the lack of time and funding to 3D print his creations. “I think I’ll just buy one of the capsule toys [as memorabilia].” He continued on to discuss with his friends the future of 3D-printed smartphone cases you can make at home … if only the MakerBot machines were slightly more affordable. We could only dream of the days where, instead of traditional computer printers, we could get 3D printers with our college laptops as a back-to-school package. After all, isn’t that the future we’re headed toward?

The MakerBot store is open seven days a week and is easily on its way to becoming one of the hottest new attractions here in Silicon Alley. Who says downtown New York is only good for shopping?