We have always been a big fan of Do-It-Yourself stores simply because with some wood, nails and other tools you can build and create things that are exactly matched to your needs and wishes. It is customization at its finest. And it’s been around for ages!
In this digital age many more technologies are becoming available to push the boundaries of DIY. Developments in 3D printing and laser cutting, for instance, mean that new and improved customization options become available to a wide DIY audience. This will become highly relevant for stores such as Brico, Gamma, Karwei, Lowe’s and Home Depot.
Every door needs a handle! Get a customized 3D door handle that fits your style.
3D printed door handle by Peli Design
Laser cut Zesch coasters by Michiel Cornelissen
We think there is a great fit between the DIY store and 3D customization/3D printing.
Here are three main reasons why:
You can create advanced custom parts with 3D printers and laser cutters
The launch of 3D printers for DIY use, such as the Dremel 3D Idea Builder, gives the Do-It-Yourselfer infinite possibilities for creating the specific parts they need for his project. It might be a connection piece, a door knob, a tag or a decorative ornament. The only thing the user needs is a 3D model to start from. Easy-to-use 3D configurators will be crucial here.
Twikit 3D configurators for DIY objects – 3D printed Door tag (left) & laser cut animals (right)
The same is true for laser cutters, some companies are working on cheaper and smaller machines, so they become available to a wider audience.
Some Do-It-Yourselfers have an advanced workbench, other will have their timber sawn to size at the store.
However, not everyone wants a 3D printer or laser cutter at home and this creates opportunities for DIY stores.
They can install a 3D printer or laser cutter on premises or work with an external company to service their customers and provide them with the pieces they need.
An exclusive 3D Printed metal faucet by American Standard
This is already in process at some retailers such as Home Depot. Others haven’t caught on yet and stay behind. Stores who want to integrate such a service also need to think on the right content. More on that later.
DIY stores can market design furniture and interior items without an increase in inventory.
Technologies like 3D printing allow to build complex parts and products on demand.
It is easy for example to print a connection piece to connect a beam to a wooden board. In this way, with a couple of connection pieces, customers can build their own custom design table, which is based on raw material and looks really sleek.
Keystone Project by Studio Minale-Maeda
So by placing user-friendly configurator and a 3D printer in your store, you suddenly can offer Scandinavian style items and compete with expensive furniture stores.
From raw material to an end-product in no time, this sounds like a really short value chain.
This lamp was created by our co-founder Georges.
A combination of 3 copper pipes, a standard Ikea socket and 3D printed connection parts.
Offer specific one-off parts digitally
Do-It-Yourselfers like to solve problems with their own hands. They will often come up with a practical solution. This could be, for example, a 3D printed part they have modeled themselves. This again creates an opportunity for stores. If they provide a digital platform to store and share these solutions, they can offer more added-value products in a digital way. So no need for a bigger store. This could work for a multitude of products.
3D printed spare Ikea parts by Ikeahackers
Maybe your customer needs a simple spare part to fix a piece of furniture or a discontinued part to get an old machine working again. You could even imagine 3D printing a specific tool that a customer needs but can’t find anywhere. The actual cost of these parts can range from low to really high depending on what the customer needs, materials used etc…
The specifications and functionalities of the 3D printer obviously determine which parts you can actually print. However, applications, materials and technologies are constantly improving, in time offering an answer to almost any DIY issue customers might have.
Opensource laser cut SketchChair
We are convinced that in the future we will see many more applications for 3D printed and laser cut DIY products opening the doors to more creative and efficient DIY solutions.