Amazon lets you customise and 3D-print products (Wired UK)


When Asda announced last year
that it would launch a new 3D-printing service in its York supermarket, we
thought, why the heck not? We’ll accept your promotional move with
good nature Asda, seen as you are bringing the joy of 3D printing
to the masses (well, for £40) — and in the form of a “mini-me”, to
boot.

That was okay for a while, if you had money to burn. But the big
leagues have now taken over. Amazon has launched an online store solely for 3D-printed items, meaning more
customisation for everyone, and less wondering why you spent £40 on
a useless ornament.

The store, which is somewhat more minimalist in stature compared
to the flagship, features items developed by third parties under
the sections jewellery, toys and games, home and garden and
electronics accessories. Admittedly, the toys and games section
features just 29 results, one of which is an orange tiger than
stands on its hind legs in a man-like fashion, another being a “3D
printed happy pig desktop 3D print”, who appears to have a sweet
tooth. (It’s truly terrifying.)

In total there are more than 200 items. But the point here is
not variety of stock — it’s easy 3D printing for the masses and
personalisation, which Director for Amazon Marketplace Sales Petra
Schindler-Carter refers to as the “immersive customer experience”. Customers can
use a widget to tweak materials, colours, and add text or images in
some cases. (Unfortunately, the gurning pig, who holds a lolly
while waving at prospective buyers and sitting in a pile of mud
wearing Y-fronts, does not come with any of these options. The Doctor Who Tardis cookie cutter somewhat makes up for
this oversight.)


Customers will get a preview of their chosen item before placing
a final order, with a 360-degree view provided. Amazon is so far
working with select chosen retailers, including Mixee Labs and
Sculpteo, but is looking for more.

There are a few bumps in the Amazon strategy thus far. Namely,
when Wired.co.uk attempted to personalise an item, it took us a
while to even find an object that allowed for that. So not all of
the limited number of items offers this, the shop’s key
attraction.

It’s also only available in the US so far, though the company
tends to trial things there before rolling out its services
globally. This is despite one of the companies providing items
being based in France. The items are all also, predictably,
expensive. The Tardis cookie cutter will set you back more than
$100, plus shipping.

The trial run will be an interesting one, though. On this side
of the Atlantic, we have companies like FabAllThings, which
actually gets the public to submit designs for 3D printing. The
userbase then votes on them, and the most popular ones get made and
sold, with the designer getting a royalty. It means they get to
test the marketplace before committing to the costly production
process. To bring together companies that have already proven
successful in the sphere, though, and act as a global distributor,
could be a gamechanging system provided by Amazon.

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28 July 2014 | 4:52 pm – Source: wired.co.uk

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