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Amazon develops idea of mobile 3D printing trucks

27 February 2015 - 10:15 by David Aiken

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Online retailer, Amazon, could be adapting its business model to cope with the rise of 3D printing technology, by creating a fleet of advanced trucks which can create products on the move.

The Register reports that a patent filing the firm made over in America indicates that it is trying to protect the idea of putting a 3D printer in the back of a van and then driving around to customers’ homes, to provide them with items on demand.

Moving to a 3D printing-based business model would mean that Amazon might even be able to cut down on some of its warehouse requirements. And people would be able to order products via safe shopping online and have the manufacturing outlet driven direct to their door.

Of course, Amazon is probably thinking about its own future and accepting the fact that 3D printers should eventually become advanced enough to allow people to create useful products in their own homes, rather than ordering them from the internet. So to avoid being rendered partly redundant, it is getting involved at this early stage.

One of the benefits of having 3D printers built into delivery trucks that Amazon mentions in the patent filing, is that it could help to significantly reduce the amount of time during which people are waiting for the items they order via safe shopping online to arrive.

Mounting a 3D printer in a truck will mean that these vehicles could, technically, be on patrol in particular areas and then be dispatched to a customer’s address when an order is placed for an item that can be manufactured in this way.

Whether or not the patent will be approved, or if Amazon will actually launch 3D printing trucks, is a different matter altogether.