Amazon has announced a new 3D Printed Products store. The store has launched with more than 200 print-on-demand designs. Users can customize items like earrings, pendants, rings and bobble head dolls using a special widget, before having the item 3D-printed and delivered.
Amazon is by no means the first place to offer 3D printed items for sale. A plethora of websites like Shapeways, i.materialise and Thingify offer a variety of 3D printing options. Depending on the focus of the site, users can upload and print their own items, buy items designed by others and customize items designed by others. Many of the sites offer a community aspect too.
The entrance of Amazon into the market, however, is sure to cause some degree of disruption. The company says the store is already one of the largest places online to find and purchase 3D-printed products. Amazon's size, popularity and ubiquity raises the possibility of it adversely affecting competitors, as has been the case in other such markets.
Having said that, the 3D Printed Products store is more of a marketplace, meaning that creators and retailers can sell their offerings via the Amazon store. Indeed, i.materialise and Thingify, among others, are both offering items via the store.
"The introduction of our 3D Printed Products store suggests the beginnings of a shift in online retail - that manufacturing can be more nimble to provide an immersive customer experience," says director for Amazon Marketplace Sales Petra Schindler-Carter. "Sellers, in alignment with designers and manufacturers, can offer more dynamic inventory for customers to personalize and truly make their own."
Although users of the store cannot upload and print their own designs, it is, as mentioned, possible to customize some of the available designs. Amazon has built a customization engine into the store, allowing for very simple changes to an item's design, or more wholesale changes. Interactive 3D preview functionality is also provided, with which users can rotate an object and view it from any angle.
The Amazon 3D Printed Products store is open for business now.