André Skortzaru is the Co-Founder and Commercial Director of 3D Criar, a company based in São Paulo, Brazil, that provides businesses with the 3D printers and consultancy services needed to set up their own Fab Labs. Since 2016, Skortzaru and 3D Criar have been working with home improvement chain Leroy Merlin to start a series of Fab Lab-inspired Bricolabs for their customers in South America.
For the Bricolab service, 3D Criar supplies Leroy Merlin with the ZMorph VX multitool 3D printer and ZMorph software. In conversation with Skortzaru, we learn more about the value 3D printing is providing to Leroy Merlin stores across Brazil.
A digital outlook for the analog store
The first Leroy Merlin Bricolab was inaugurated in June 2016. With this facility, the store’s customers (which average 1 million in foot-fall each year) were given access to a variety of tools that they could use to build, develop and customize their own DIY projects. In addition to on-demand access to tools, Leroy Merlin Bricoloabs host workshops and hackathons to help customers learn and make more things for themselves.
Skortzaru explains, “I understood from Leroy Merlin that their interest and objectives with 3D printers and Fab Labs were connected with company’s wish to change their image as a big retail of raw material to a digital culture; create and attract future customers; and increase the customer-flow in the biggest Leroy Merlin Shop of Latin America.”
One of the ways in which the company hoped to achieve this was by providing a wealth of digital fabrication tools, alongside its analog expertise (i.e. saws, hammers, screwdrivers etcs.). Namely, this encompasses 3D printing, CNC milling, plotting and laser cutting.
The advantages of a multitool machine
Tried and tested by the 3D Printing Industry team, the ZMorph VX holds up as a versatile piece of machinery. According to the engineer’s conclusions, “the ZMorph VX is indeed a brilliant multitool 3D printer, which performed very well across all functions, especially for 3D printing.”
This also appears to be true of the machine’s performance within a Fab Lab environment at Leroy Merlin. Skortzaru comments, “The ZMorph VX is very affordable equipment for those Fab Labs that do not want to invest in a 3D printer and a laser cutter, plotter, CNC [separately].”
He adds that it is also suitable for “[those who] want to have a back up/replacement when other machines are full/out operation.” As anyone who has used a Fab Lab will know, one of the key challenges of maintaining productivity is machine availability. Skortzaru adds, “When a Bricolab is in full operation, with laser cutting maxed out, ZMorph can do engraving and laser cutting of detailed and small projects. The same applies for the CNC milling machine. Bricolab has a big router CNC 3mx2m. But for small and detailed projects, the ZMorph is perfect.”
In addition to the VX multitool 3D printer, Leroy Merlin Bricloabs are also equipped with ZMorph software, enabling the simultaneous use of multiple 3D printers. In addition, ZMorph Software integration includes access to ZMorph Academy resources which helps users hone and develop their skills.
Expansion with the DIY movement
Since the launch two years ago, Leroy Merlin now has plans to increase its number of Bricolabs to 40 locations across Brazil, which would include all 13 of its stores. Commenting on the integration of ZMorph VX 3D printers at these sites Bartosz Lanc, Marketing Manager at ZMorph, says, “We’re really excited to see ZMorph VX Multitool 3D Printers in the BricoLab, a place that brings what’s best in the STEM education and DIY movement. We’re sure that ZMorph VX with its three different workflows is the best choice for Fab Labs and educational institutes to engage the community by giving hands-on learning experience, easy-to-use environment, and big fun,”
“In the near future, if Bricolab reaches 40 stores in Brazil as planned, the network of suppliers working with Leroy Merlin will be able to create customized and differentiated products that can only be manufactured exclusively through 3D printers in one of Leroy Merlin stores.”
Learn more about the ZMorph VX multitool 3D printer here.
Featured image shows a ZMorph VX multitool 3D printer inside a Leroy Merlin Bricolab. Photo via 3D Criar