3D printing is the stuff of science fiction novels come to life, thanks to one of the biggest online retailers in the U.S., Amazon. On June 28, the company began selling 3D printing supplies through their online marketplace. The concept was so successful that Amazon has now also made available a 3D personalization venture, allowing retailers and individuals alike to use the technology behind 3D printing to custom order products. This 3D mall, at present, offers over 200 items that can be customized by a diverse range of variables, such as size, color, image imprints and custom text.
Some of the items that are available now via the Amazon print shop for immediate purchase are simple, but intriguing. Printed jewelry, sculptures, artwork and more can be bought on Amazon’s so-far-sparse page of personalized wares. However, the Mixee Bobblehead is generating a fair amount of buzz from curious consumers who marvel at the capacity for innovation that such a customizable marketplace could offer.
Along with the launch of the store, Amazon is introducing a new personalization tool for customizing some of these 3D-printed designs. The tool opens up a widget that lets users choose from a number of basic designs, pick the color and finish of the material and take a sneak peek at what the finished product will look like with a 360-degree 3D preview. Users can tweak individual aspects of the designs for many items, including thickness and other dimensions.
3D printing is not exclusive to Amazon. Etsy shop owners have developed a trend in stocking 3D printed goods over the course of the last few years. This sort of trailblazing sales practice may have played a part in nudging Amazon to begin its cutting-edge new initiative. Also, companies such as Shapeways offer 3D printing services for materials such as gold, silver, brass, sandstone, flexible plastic and other materials.
Much like Amazon, Home Depot currently sells 3D printing products to individuals. Target and Walmart are both investigating 3D printing opportunities. Amazon is, however, the first company to take the applied science of 3D printing to the mass market. It is sure to turn heads as the practice is explored further.
Amazon’s director for Marketplace Sales, Petra Schindler-Carter, says that the introduction of 3D printing, which the company has now made available, signals a shift toward more nimble and engaging sales and customer service. She goes on to say that this shop will help sellers who use Amazon reach more customers in a fun, creative, and charmingly personal way. 3D printing aims to give retailers access to a potentially infinite number of products and limber pricing.
Using the option to personalize goods using 3D printing techniques, certain products for sale on Amazon will feature a “Personalize Now” option hovering over the familiar “Add to Cart” button. The applications for this new technology range from simple (such as imprinting a name or inscription, slightly altering an object’s appearance, or adding a small element to a product’s design) to complex. So far, the applications for this remarkable innovation seem to be only limited by one’s imagination.
Sellers on Amazon will now have access to revolutionary, simple and easy-to-use features that make putting an individual touch on items as fun and as least intimidating as possible. The “3D Print Preview” function will allow creators to have a 360 degree view of their product’s virtual model, allowing users to revise the item in whatever way they see fit. Much like Amazon’s CreateSpace, items will be available on a print-on-demand basis, eliminating waste and over-ordering, and cutting down dramatically on production costs to the seller (and ultimately the consumer).
Prices listed at the Amazon 3D print shop start at around $30 for a one-of-a-kind flagship offering made of sandstone, plastic or metal. John Hauer, the Co-Founder and CEO of 3DLT, says that by opening itself to this cutting-edge avenue of retail, Amazon has positioned itself to be a pioneer in mainstream retail for this exciting, futuristic growth industry.
With 3D printing now available from Amazon, other retailers are bound to begin offering the service in the coming months. For the time being, any sellers or designers who are interested in learning more about Amazon’s 3D Printed Products store can visit the landing page online to learn more about how to get started.
By Mariah Beckman