The Home Depot is the world's largest home improvement specialty retailer.

How large? With 2,264 retail stores in all 50 states, 10 Canadian provinces and Mexico, the company boasted sales of $78.8 billion and earnings of $5.4 billion last year. The firm employs more than 300,000 associates.

And this is serious business for the 3D printing industry as well. The ubiquitous chain now says it will be offering MakerBot devices (such as Replicator 3D printers and Digitizer 3D scanners) in selected stores.

It's all set to begin with Home Depot placing MakerBot devices in a dozen stores located in New York, California and Illinois.

The companies are calling it a "pilot program," but the fact that the MakerBot 3D printing and scanning products are set to be showcased inside The Home Depot stores in specially designed kiosks is an indication both companies mean business.

MakerBot describes the agreement as a testament to "the power and versatility of 3D printing in a DIY retail environment," and it's surely the first in a long line of such agreements designed to expose builders, architects, contractors, designers, landscapers and general consumers to the benefits of 3D printing technology.

"We're thrilled to partner with The Home Depot to help bring MakerBot 3D printing technology to The Home Depot customers," said Bre Pettis, CEO of MakerBot. "Imagine a world where you can 3D print replacement parts and use 3D printing as an integral part of design and building work. Every day we see the magic of 3D printing becoming a reality with our customers – now The Home Depot can also see that magic"

The Home Depot has been selling MakerBot products online for at least the last three months, but it's a savvy move for the company to actually let customers witness the 3D printers in person.