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New Dimension in 3D Printing

April 7, 2016


Amazon finds retail opportunity for new technology with 3D printing store.

Amazon, the global online retailer, has announced a new application for 3D printing technology with the expansion of their online 3D printing store.

3D printing, the revolutionary new technology which allows users to create a physical product from a three dimensional model, has so far been the domain of experimenting technology firms and the construction industry. However, as Amazon announces a new wave of expansion for their online retail store, which opened last year, the market for the technology is expanding, albeit at a slower rate than previously envisioned.

The announcement states that the new service will allow customers to personalize characters from their favourite characters from numerous popular video games, by selecting a character and then using the personalization widget to create unique poses, use armor configurations or apply various different weapons and accessories to their character. Then they use the 3D product preview function to see a 360 degree view of their masterpiece from any angle, after which the customer goes through an approval and checkout process before the product is 3D printed on-demand and shipped directly to the customer. Most of the designs are created by Sandboxr, a 3D printing firm which specializes in gaming and video game character creation.

The three main personalisation packages are Smite, which allows customers over ‘30,000 ways to create customized characters’; Primal Carnage, which gives the option for ‘more than 12,500 customized set framed poses and character options’ and Infinity Blade, which offers users ‘over 12 million combinations to personalize the characters with unique poses, armor configurations, weapons and accessories’.

The cost of this service depends on the level of personalization, with the price starting at just $29.99, with larger customized characters rising in price to $49.99 up to $89.99. These prices make the figures more accessible to casual customers wishing to purchase a limited number of the products for recreational use.

Steve Johnson, Director for the Amazon Marketplace, made it clear that although the product range in the online store was still in the early stages of growth, this new range marked a key expansion for the 3D printing range.

‘There is a lot of passion and excitement in the culture of gaming, as well as 3D printing, and by combining these two worlds and allowing customers to design and personalize their favorite video game characters we can bring enthusiasts even closer to the games they love. 3D Printed Products on Amazon is still in its early days, and we are eager to offer customers the freedom to be designers and create one-of-a-kind items.’

Amazon’s online store is one of the largest online destinations for customers to purchase customizable 3D printed products, and this new range of products marks a key growth strategy as the firm attempts to make the technology more accessible to a retail market. The store also has a service aimed at business, allowing brands to offer print on-demand product designs.
Currently the store sells customizable 3D printed jewellery, as well as other products such as printed home decorations and electronics accessories, but currently the product range is limited. Despite this Amazon is keen to promote the number of products on offer, stating that since its launch the number of products has grown by over 150%.

‘The 3D Printed Products store gives customers access to thousands of fun and unique items, many that can be customized by material, style and color variations, and personalized with text. The 3D Printed Products store is one of the largest online destinations to discover customizable 3D printed products and features convenient search tools, interactive 3D preview functionality and the product personalization widget.’

By appealing to customers with an interest in gaming and introducing a new, more interactive means of creating the 3D products Amazon broadens their reach in the industry and making the products more attractive to customers, with the personalization allowing the technology to be used to its full potential as opposed to simply being a new means of manufacturing products.
Customers can also purchase 3D printing technology for themselves from stores such as iMakr, but with prices in the thousands for the machines they are currently not accessible to casual users. Printing machines are also being gradually introduced into the manufacturing industry but as yet customers wanting a service allowing them customizable products which can be printed for them have a limited choice.

Amazon’s service is appealing to customers because it allows the advantages of 3D printing, namely the ease of creating complex products, allowing for personalization without the customer having to print the products themselves.

The new range will introduce a new group of customers to the technology, as well as heralding a big expansion for the store. However, as the technology slowly becomes more accessible Amazon may have to diversify further to compete in the growing market.

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