Glowforge has signed a new retail partner in an attempt to get its 3D laser printers and other products in front of more customers who are already thinking of making and creating.
The Seattle-based startup announced Tuesday that it is partnering with Michaels, the North American specialty retailer that sells arts, crafts, picture frames and more online and in more than 1,200 stores in the United States and Canada.
Glowforge manufactures a line of 3D laser cutters / engravers. Rather than making objects out of plastic strands like traditional 3D printers, Glowforge uses a laser to quickly cut and engrave products made from raw materials like leather, paper, plastic, cloth or cardboard, all with the push of a button.
The 7-year-old startup’s Glowforge Plus and Pro model printers, as well as its air filters and Proofgrade materials, will be available on the Michaels website and at select retailers.
“This is really an opportunity to reach out to a broader part of America,” Glowforge co-founder and CEO Dan Shapiro told GeekWire. “What we have seen over the years is that our product increasingly goes into homes and schools and is not used by early adopters of technology, but by people from all walks of life.”
Shapiro said customers are creatively empowered by machines to start an Etsy, sell things on eBay or the corner store, or start and scale a home-based business.
“Most of the units go to the homes, and the schools are also this new and growing piece of our business, and those are worlds that intersect at Michaels,” Shapiro said.
Founded in 2014, Glowforge set a crowdfunding record in October 2015, but had some trouble fulfilling orders, delaying production and shipping numerous times. Prices now range from $ 2,995 for a basic model to $ 5,995 for the Pro version.
The startup has raised around $ 120 million to date and made its physical debut in December 2018 when it announced craft retail giant JOANN as an investor and new national retail partner.
Glowforge is growing along with its customer base, jumping from about 100 employees at the end of 2020, to more than 200 now.
“Most of my co-workers I have never met in person,” Shapiro said, adding that most jobs are now 100% remote. Some hardware jobs will remain in-person jobs at Glowforge Labs in Seattle.
Shapiro attributes the doubling in size to the fact that Glowforge has doubled its revenue year over year and sold a record number of printer customers, prints, and “doubling the amazing things people are creating.”
“Nearly half of our purchases come from another Glowforge customer who loves the product and told his friend about it,” Shapiro said. “That customer referral is really the core of our growth. That’s why we’ve been able to sustain that over time and through the pandemic and everything in between.”
Shapiro called the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting supply chain problems a “bumpy road” but said Glowforge “had good buffers.” The products are back in stock and the new deal with Michaels will offer another place to shop.
Glowforge says 12 Michaels stores across the country will participate in the program initially, expanding to 152 stores by the end of October. In addition to purchasing laser printers and Proofgrade materials, Michaels customers can also see Glowforge printers in action through regular classes or demonstrations.