Tech Data has responded to the "rapid adoption" occurring in the 3D printer market by inking an alliance with MakerBot.
Under the partnership, which covers only North America, the broadliner has agreed to represent MakerBot's 3D printing and scanning products exclusively within the 3D printing category for the next 12 months.
Tech Data becomes the latest in a growing line of mainstream IT distributors to embrace 3D printing, with arch rival Ingram Micro signing a similar North American deal with MakerBot last October and Midwich inking a UK partnership with rival 3D Systems in the same month.
Tech Data will carry a range of products including the recently introduced MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D printer and MakerBot Replicator Mini Compact 3D printer.
With prices of some entry-level 3D printers now sinking below $1,000 (£600) – one unveiled a few days ago by start-up New Matter is advertised for as little as $249 – Canalys declared recently that the market is at an "inflection point". The analyst expects revenue to rise by more than 50 per cent this year to $3.8bn, before growing to $16.2bn by 2018.
Tech Data vice president Wendy Maurer-Linsky said the MakerBot partnership was fuelled by the "rise in market demand and rapid adoption of 3D printing and scanning we have observed".
Mark Schulze, vice president of sales for MakerBot, added: "With a solid understanding of how quickly the desktop 3D printing market is growing and its commitment to supporting top-tier resellers targeting the professional, educational and consumer markets, signing on with Tech Data was an easy decision to make."
Midwich claimed sales of 3D printers have been strong since it entered the market nine months ago. Growth has been fuelled partly by an increase in 3D Systems' range and partly by the addition of being able to print with nylon, which it said gives increased strength and flexibility to output.
Ashley Camm, 3D print specialist at Midwich, said: "We have found that demand for our lower-end solutions tends to lead to discussions regarding higher-end machines.
"After completing a course in Le Mans in July, I'll be qualified to specify high-end 3D Systems machines used in sectors ranging from medical to Formula One."
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