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Amazon announces 3D printing marketplace

04 August 2014 - 10:17 by Graham Miller

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Amazon has plenty of ambitious retail projects in the works at the moment, with an especially significant amount of coverage generated earlier this year, when it revealed its intentions to start using drones to deliver products ordered online.

However, last week the firm pulled back the curtains on a new marketplace that is targeted at consumers who want a high level of control over the look and feel of the items they select, but want to avoid the usual high prices that are charged for bespoke customisation.

This is of course made possible by the 3D printing phenomenon, with customers in the US now able to order 3D printed items from various merchants through Amazon's e-commerce site.

Buyers are not only able to determine the type of product they want to buy, but also have the opportunity to specify almost everything else about it, from its colour and size, to the type of material from which it is made. This kind of direct engagement between manufacturers and consumers was not really possible before 3D printing became a mainstream hit.

Amazon spokesperson, Petra Schnidler-Carter, explained that the 3D printing marketplace would give companies the chance to be much more flexible and responsive to the needs of customers, keeping up with emerging trends and fashions, without having to go back to the drawing board every time a change is necessary.

3D printing is so flexible because changes and alterations can be applied to the digital design of an item, before being printed out in a short period. There is no need to create a whole production line for complicated items, thus saving time and money, and catering to consumers who love safe shopping online.

Of course, the ultimate goal is to make it possible for every consumer to have a 3D printer at home which can be used to print out everything, from simple structures like screws, right to an entire tablet computer.