Sylvain Preumont hosting his first Total 3D Experience Meetup group in January
3D NEWS> 3D PRINTING
3D Focus talks to iMakr founder & director Sylvain Preumont ahead of the iMakr 3D print store opening in central London on April 30th.
Having founded Diadeis and acting as CEO of PictoMobile in the past, Sylvain Preumont set up iMakr – the first vertical investment fund in Europe 100% dedicated to 3D printing technologies.
In January he launched a London 3D Printing Meetup group called ‘Total 3D Experience’. Meetup is the world's largest network of local groups with 13.53 million members in 196 countries and makes it easy for anyone to set up a group of people who share a common interest.
Sylvain’s group now consists of 735 members and is the second largest 3D printing group in the world after just three months. It has been so successful that he decided to open a store dedicated to 3D printing in central London. Spanning over 2500 square feet, it will be the largest shop of its kind in the world.
The first 3D printing store to open was the Makerbot Store in Manhattan which sells Makerbots, filament and pre-made items. The iMakr store will have arrangements with a range of suppliers rather than exclusively one brand and even provides retail opportunities for people who want to sell their own ‘things’.
The big launch will be at 18.30 on April 30th. So far 300 meet up members are confirmed to attend and 22 are on a waiting list. Demand is so huge that the launch event has now been extended to May 1st.
The iMakr website is currently inviting people to send links to products that can be resold such as accessories, scanners, services and of course printers. It is safe to assume that stores in Paris and Berlin will follow.
In this exclusive interview with Sylvain Preumont we start by asking how he got to this stage:
Sylvain Preumont: I've been a Sketchup user for many years, more on the architectural side of things. I first got involved in 3D printing back in 2007 and started designing objects with it. But I soon realised that it was too early. Being early is good but too early is deadly dangerous. By last year I realised it was so much bigger and ready, and I decided to go for it.
3D Focus: What will be sold in the iMakr store?
Sylvain Preumont: iMakr Store is both a showroom and a store. We will expose and resell as many 3D printing related devices, accessories, supplies or things as makes sense for consumers and small businesses.
3D Focus: Can people sell their own designs in the iMakr store?
Sylvain Preumont: We would be happy to talk to you and expose your work, art and things if you are doing anything genuine in 3D printing. We have had quite a few designers and artists come to us and say “that’s what I do” and we are happy to dedicate some space in the store for them. We really want to make it where it is not only a store where you buy things but also where you go to understand things and discover things. It will be the store of the maker community to come.
3D Focus: So is this a straight forward retail store?
Sylvain Preumont: We want to engage with people so we are going to look into assistance and training because we know most people coming into the store will have little knowledge of 3D design and 3D creation. We will be offering them a total 3D experience where they leave with more knowledge then when they arrived.
3D Focus: Why did you launch the 3D printing Meetup group in London?
Sylvain Preumont: I first decided to run the 3D Printing London Meetup group back in December 2012. In three months’ time it has become the second biggest 3D printing group in the world. So seeing that massive interest helped me decide to open a physical retail store. We recognise that 3D printing is about real people printing real things in their real life; not just about something you see on the TV about printing a house or a gun.
So it makes so much sense to offer them real store to see it for real. Until now one could go on the Internet and see YouTube videos showing incredible things. Then you have to buy from a website from somewhere in the world, from somebody you don’t know, which you cannot see before you buy and then you have to wait six weeks before you receive anything. Then you open the box and you don’t know what you are going to find and if it doesn’t work you are left alone. Look at all those deceptive posts in the forums everywhere.
We at iMakr are thinking of the need for that technology to come into the real life. People will come into our shop, touch the things and talk to real people. People want to engage in real life, and that’s what we want to allow with iMakr Store.
3D Focus: You are launching in two weeks – are you ready?
Sylvain Preumont: We are ready as much as we can be and we are on track. The level of interest is enormous but that was expected. We have run Meetup events monthly for the last three months and we had 150 people show up every time. And not only techies and geeks: we had designers, entrepreneurs, CEOs, artists, students etc. like you and me. Traction is not only from the journalists and the blogs. It’s from the real people who feel that something big is beginning to happen.
Ed Rawle's 3D printed vase costs just £10 in materials
We wanted to know if the iMakr store presents a genuine opportunity for people to monetise their designs. We visited creative production company Inition where we spoke to Ed Rawle, a 3D printing technician who built his own 3D printer while studying at the University of the Arts, London. He showed us a vase he had designed a while back and recently 3D printed. He believes the iMakr model is a genuine revolution that can address the issues of ordering 3D printed items online.
He said: "For the first time ever, I can potentially go from a sketch in my head to a fully functional, creatively designed watertight vase selling in one of the world's busiest high streets. A 3D printing retail space could provide the physical link between the technology and people interested in it but I can imagine competition for space will be tough when the only real limitation is imagination."
Looking how this business model could evolve he said: "Perhaps in the future, if people liked a physical object on display after holding it, seeing it in different lighting conditions and how it looked next to other objects, all of which they could not do online, they might be able to scan a code and have the STL design files sent to their home 3D printer. The store and designer would share a design royalty."
Ed Rawle, designed his vase with generative software and printed it on a 3D Touch at Inition's Shoreditch studios. It took about a day to print in biodegradable plastic (PLA)
In other related news, it was announced this morning that the Cube, CubeX and CubeX Trio 3D printers will be available in the iMakr store.
CubeX, the latest 3D printer from 3D Systems (which is big enough to print a basketball) retails for under £2000.
"iMakr aims at bringing the best in 3D printing to consumers, both online and offline, in its one-of-a-kind London store" says Sylvain Preumont, iMakr founder and CEO. "We're glad that Cubify and 3D Systems, the world leader in 3D printing, support our initiative."
Rajeev Kulkarni, General Manager of Consumer Solutions at 3D Systems stated that: "We are pleased to welcome iMakr as a new partner in the sales and support of our consumer solutions. The iMakr store is an exciting initiative and we wish them tremendous success."
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