amazon 3d printing
July 29, 2014

With Amazon’s New 3-D Printing Store, Customers Can Design Their Own Products

John Hopton for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Amazon.com customers will be given the chance to have a direct influence over the design of products they wish to purchase, as the online retail giant has launched its 3D Printing Store.

The initial range of options is currently at around 200, and includes smart wallets, jewelry such as earrings and cuff links, and items found around the house in the form of bowls, wine glass holders and table lamps. Parents or talented kids can also create their own bobble head toys. The designs will be created using a product personalization widget, which allows customers to decide on the material used for a project, its size and style, as well as various colors, personalized text and image imprints. They can then take a 360 degree look at their work and zoom in or flip it on the user-friendly interface before submitting it for manufacturing.

Amazon is the facilitator and the entry point for buyers, but once the designs are complete they will be sent to 3D printing experts such as Sculpteo, Mixee Labs and 3DLT who are working in partnership to deliver the product to the customer.

In a statement, Clément Moreau, CEO and co-founder of Sculpteo, said: “The online customer shopping experience will be redefined through 3D printing. When you take into consideration the investment needed for manufacturing products, 3D printing offers a cost effective alternative that benefits customers by limitless product options.. Amazon’s deep understanding of customers coupled with Sculpteo’s fast, high-quality manufacturing process offers an unprecedented level of product possibilities for customers. With 3D printing, a customer’s wants are no longer limited to what is in stock but instead by what they can imagine."

Putting the customer at the center of the design process is a concept which looks set to grow rapidly, and it is Amazon's intention to expand the idea considerably in the future. Petra Schindler-Carter, Director for Amazon Marketplace Sales, described the 3D Printing Store as "the beginnings of a shift in online retail," with a "potentially infinite number of products at great prices across many product categories."

Reuters reporter Deepa Seetharaman points out that the expansion is in keeping with Amazon's recent branching out into new areas such as fine art and wine, as well as mobile services and original content, but is also part of the "maker movement" out of northern California as well in Europe to a degree, which "focused on customizing 3D objects rather than development software or mobile applications." The idea to offer people a 3D print option is said to have been influenced further when Amazon noted that sales of 3D printers were increasing on its wholesale site for businesses, Amazon Supply.

Along similar lines, the eBay Exact iPhone app allows users to tinker with designs, with final products being fulfilled by some of those involved with Amazon such as Sculpteo. However, the scope and scale seems not to be quite as significant as Amazon's grand plan for a future of customer designs, printed in 3D, reports Dante D'Orazio for The Verge.

FOR THE KINDLE: The History of 3D Printing: redOrbit Press