Dell thinks adding MakerBot 3D printers and scanners to its existing portfolio of workstations will let it offer an end-to-end 3D design solution. An engineer can design and test new product concepts, architects can create 3D prototypes during the design phase, and startups can experiment with new product designs and artistic models. The deal ensures MakerBot Replicator products will be the only FDM technology sold through Dell’s small business channel in the US.
None of this is cheap. The cheapest MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer with a 100-micron layer resolution and a 410-cubic-inch build volume will hit the streets for $2,199. The top of the range MakerBot Replicator Z18 3D Printer, which will be available in the spring of 2014 will set you back $6,499. MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner – optimized for use MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printers and MakerBot Thingiverse, available at the price of $949.
MakerBot is the winner out of the deal because it gains more exposure for its product line, while Dell can say it is helping small businesses find cost-effective alternatives to enlisting off-site or overseas prototyping facilities. It is possible that in a few years 3D printing will become jolly important, although it is also possible it might be a bubble waiting to burst.