Although 3-D printing has been a breakout tech story this year, the real question industry watchers have is whether shoppers will put a 3-D printer under their Christmas tree.
Sales of consumer 3-D printers have soared in recent years. The industry is still in the early-adopter phase, but makers are moving to convince people that the technology has a place in their homes.
The technology for 3-D printing, which builds objects layer by layer, has been around since the 1980s, but the desktop printers hit shelves only recently.
The consumer segment accounted for just 6.5 percent of all 3-D printer sales in 2012, according to research firm Wohlers Associates. The industry generated the lion's share of its $617.5 million of revenue from the sale of industrial machines.
Still, makers of 3-D printers sold 35,500 consumer units last year, up from just 355 in 2008. Sales could double, to about 70,000, this year, according to Credit Suisse.
(Read more: 3-D gifts for do-it-yourselfers)
Stratasys, which bought MakerBot earlier this year, opened stores in Boston and in Greenwich, Conn., before the holidays. Retailers including Wal-Mart Stores and Amazon sell 3-D printers online, but MakerBot expects that consumers' having physical contact with them will be a game changer.
"MakerBot loves having retail stores because it allows people to see, touch and feel 3-D printing," said Jennifer Lawton, president of MakerBot. "We're seeing people come in who have never even heard of 3-D printing and walking out with a 3-D printer."