In a move that signals that 3D printing is moving closer to the mainstream, Dell announced that it will soon be offering MakerBot Replicator 3D printers and scanners to small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S.
The MakerBot products will be offered alongside Dell’s existing portfolio of Dell Precision workstations, which are targeted at engineers, architects, and startups.
Dell will begin selling MakerBot products on Feb. 20. In addition to 3D printers and scanners, Dell will also sell MakerBot filament.
The partnership is significant for MakerBot because it signals that Dell believes that 3D printing will appeal to a much wider audience than the hobbyists who launched MakerBot as a brand. In fact, Dell business customers are primarily concerned with efficiency and cost-savings, not cool, cutting-edge technology.
In a release, Dell said it will be carrying MakerBot products, so that “our engineering customers can design and test new product concepts quickly; architects can create 3D prototypes during the design phase; and start-ups can experiment with new product designs and artistic models inexpensively.”
MakerBot already has a partnership with Microsoft, which sells MakerBot printers in its Microsoft retail stores.
The enterprise market could be the next battleground for 3D printing. HP, which is strong in traditional printing, has said that it plans to introduce a 3D printing product soon. 3D Systems, a major competitor to the Stratasys-owned MakerBot line, already has many corporate customers for its high end 3D printers, and presumably will want to extend its reach to smaller businesses.
After playing a starring role at the CES show in Las Vegas earlier this month, it seems as if 3D printing is ready to make the move from makerspaces to the mainstream.