Joann invests to bring 3D-laser cutting to stores
Joann, the craft and fabric specialty retailer, is investing in a startup that enables customers to experiment with 3D laser cutting and engraving on their DIY projects in-store.
In April, the Seattle-based startup, Glowforge, broke crowdfunding records, selling $27.9 million of pre-orders in 30 days in launching its line of 3D laser printers. Unlike 3D printers that use additive technology to build objects out of plastic, Glowforge uses subtractive technology to cut and engrave products from materials like wood, leather, acrylic, paper, fabric and even chocolate. Its starter price-tag is $2,500.
With the investment, Glowforge becomes Joann’s brick-and-mortar national retail partner. The technology will roll out to select stores in coming months and be made available for custom online orders. Joann doesn’t sell 3D printers.
The technology is already available at Joann’s first in-mall kiosk that just opened at Natick Mall outside of Boston as well as its recently opened Concept Store prototype in Columbus, OH that includes other rentable technologies and machines.
With Glowforge, users can start with a hand-drawn image and use software like Photoshop or clip art to 3D print a file using a cloud-based app. Users preview the results, and drag the images around on their chosen material to position them exactly as they prefer.
In a statement, Stephen Caution, VP of business development at Joann, said the partnership will give customers the first shot at experimenting with the new technologies. Applications range from custom acrylic floor lamps to leather shoulder bags.
“Joann has become much more than a place where people buy things, and we know crafters want more options like this,” said Mr. Caution. “We’re not only looking at our stores as places to sell crafts and fabrics, but also as destinations customers can come for advice, inspiration, education and sharing.”
Lowe’s and Staples have offered in-store 3D scanning and printing and Home Depot has demoed them — all three also sell 3D printers. Long hyped, 3D printers’ path to retail has been challenged by high prices, but the technology has become widely used for product prototyping and is popular with hobbyists.
- Joann Invests in 3D Laser Cutting Technology Glowforge, Offering Crafty Customization at the Touch of a Button – Joann
- Joann Unveils Concept Store Focused on Inspiring Creativity, Community – Joann
- Joann Fabrics’ new concept is all about the experience – RetailWire
- 3D Printing – Staples
- Lowe’s Customers Try 3D Printing in NYC – Lowe’s
- How will 3-D printing take hold at retail? – Retailwire
- 3-D Printing: The Hype Is Unwarranted, But The Hype Is Completely Warranted – Forbes
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How much will Joann gain for bringing 3D laser cutting and engraving services to its locations, and how important was it to invest in Glowforge? Are alliances and in-store services the way 3D-printing finds its way to retail?