The E-commerce retailer has finally secured a patent for an idea it started back in 2014. Amazon wants to 3D print products as a service, shipping or holding them for local pickup.
Amazon now officially holds a patent to launch a custom 3D printing service. That means consumers will be able to order custom-designed items through the e-commerce website and get them shipped right to their door or pick-up point.
The idea has been in development for quite some time now. Indeed, Amazon launched a store for 3D printed items in 2014. Back then, customers were able to order goods such as jewelry, toys or home décor. The creations were then manufactured by 3D printing partners Mixee, Sculpteo and 3DLT.
Customers were able to pick their own designs, color and finishes as well as materials. Before placing an order, they were able to view the design as a 360-degree preview.
For the retailer, the move is next in line to conquer the specialized inventory market.
According to the patent specifications, users would place a custom order with a 3D printing service provider. The item description may also include 3D manufacturing instruction. Alternatively, it appears that service providers can seek approval from customers for the manufacturing instructions. Upon verification, the custom-designed order is then 3D manufactured and shipped for door delivery or pick-up.
Similarly, suppliers can put in an order for 3D items.
Amazon patent for 3D printing service. (Image: Amazon patent filing)
Amazon’s 3D Printing Service for Speedier Parts Replacement
The advantage of such a system for Amazon is that the company could significantly reduce its warehouse space. If orders are custom-made and immediately shipped, they won’t be taking up any space in a warehouse.
Custom 3D printed objects are not just for the extrovert seeking a uniquely stylish home or a somewhat different gift idea. Instead, anyone could benefit from fast-turnaround 3D printed parts.
Imagine doing a clothes wash and breaking a functional part of the washing machine. Using your smartphone or laptop, Amazon would allow you to order a replacement part that could be custom 3D printed according to the original manufacturer instructions.
The only hurdle for Amazon here would entail establishing a wide network of collaborations with white goods manufacturers.
In addition, the retail group recently obtained a patent for its virtual reality mirror. This lets consumers see their reflection within a virtual reality setting or superimposing clothes. By incorporating sensors, cameras and sophisticated software, the magic mirror is able to show a realistic image at various angles. Bring on the future of trying on clothes without actually having to change!