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MakerPoint's shop front on the Arnhem High Street
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3D printed products at the front of the store
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Dyvsign's La Gerbe Bracelet, always a favourite
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A maker meeting in full flow
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Soonsalon NYC Ring in Nylon
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MAKIE-ing an appearance
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Ultimaker printing with MakerPoint's flexible filament
Walk down Rijinstraat in Arnhem and you’ll see the same shops as any other European High Street; H&M, Zara, Forever 21 etcetera etcetera (that’s not a shop), but if you keep going past the trendy fashion names you’ll see a place named MakerPoint. With a shop front that fits right in with its illustriously stylish neighbours, this is 3D Printing High Street style.
If it wasn’t for the Ultimaker 2 whirring away in the window it may surprise the untrained eye that the products as you enter the shop have anything to do with 3D printing. Professionally printed products from the likes of Dyvsign, Julian Sing, Freshfiber and MakieLab are laid out enticingly for those interested in 3D printed merchandise but not necessarily 3D printing in of itself.
Sander Smit, founder of MakerPoint, informed us he felt that having professionally printed products were important in order for people to understand what they could be getting by using professional services as opposed to the 3D printers available in the back of this retail outlet. After all he should know having ran 3D printing bureau, 3D Worknet, for over three years, who supply the manufacturing for some of those very products mentioned above.
We met Sander at the store during a Maker Meeting hosting jointly by MakerPoint and fellow Dutch 3D printing evangelists 3D Hubs. He welcomed us into his store with open arms without even knowing we were press, we weren’t there doing some undercover work rather a last minute detour during a recent circuit of the Belgium and Netherlands.
Such is the sense of community that embodies the Maker movement in the Netherlands, everybody at the meeting was happy to talk more about their latest 3D printing techniques; what works, what doesn’t, what hacks they’ve built, what adjustments they’ve made to their machine and just about any other aspect that could help you along your 3D printing way.
The sense of community makes MakerPoint stand out from the crowd, sure you can walk into an electrical retailer these days and pick up a 3D printer from a 17-year-old sales assistant who is after a spot of commission but why not seek out a genuine expert who cares and best of all, knows? Sander and co. are not going to sell you a printer without understanding your needs, they aren’t going to sell you the printer they have most of in stock, they’ll sell you the one that best suits your needs.
They have the printers in stock too; “You can wait up to eight weeks if you order and UIltimaker 2 from Ultimaker themselves, or you can come in here and pick one up today,” Sander told us. “We get people traveling from round the Netherlands just to get an Ultimaker.”
But MakerPoint aren’t just about Ultimakers, there’s MakerBots, Cubes, the 3D Builder –another Dutch 3D printer, and a whole host of Dutch filaments from the like of Innofil3D and Colorfabb as well as intriguingly MakerPoint’s own brand filament of which there is scope for strong, flexible filament.
Of all their products, over half come from the Netherlands; ColorFabb, Dyvsign, Ultimaker, 3D Builder, Innofill3D. MakerPoint themselves are thinking about expanding to more locations throughout the low countries, asked why the Netherlands is such a hive of activity in the 3D printing world Sander offered this reasoning: “I think it is because we have such innovators as Phillips and ASML, they’ve driven the Netherlands for a number of years and help keep the engineering brains in this country.”
Just 12 miles away from MakerPoint lies the German border and while their neighbours are thriving in the industrial 3D printing realm, this retail store proves the consumer access to 3D printing is very much at home in the land of windmills and tulips.