Customized Ecommerce Meets 3-D Printing in Amazon's New Online Store
Desperately seeking a bobble head doll that looks just like your friend or frenemy?
Thanks to developments in 3-D printing and the ever expanding reach of Amazon, you can have one delivered to your doorstep.
The ecommerce giant has just launched an online store where customers can design 3-D printable toys, jewelry, home decor and other sorts of miscellaneous tchotchkes. For example, you can customize your own 3-D printable bobble head dolls. Amazon isn’t actually making the products; the objects will be created by one of several third-party 3-D printing companies. (If you’re particularly intrigued by the bobble heads, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Mixee Labs makes them.)
Customers will be given templates for a range of products and then have the option of tinkering with the color, design and other elements. The goods can range anywhere from about $40 to $100.
The new online store is at the intersection of two emerging trends: personalization of the shopping experience and an explosion of the adoption of and use of 3-D printing technology. Not only does 3-D printing make possible personalized bobble head dolls -- which, make no mistake, we think are cool -- but from a corporate perspective, 3-D printing is overhauling the way that products are prototyped, tested and manufactured.
“When you take into consideration the investment needed for manufacturing products, 3-D printing offers a cost effective alternative that benefits customers by limitless product options,” said Clément Moreau, co-founder of 3-D printing company and Sculpteo, in Amazon’s announcement of the news.
The customization shop is not Amazon’s first step into the 3-D printing market. In March, the Seattle-based ecommerce juggernaut dipped its toe into the space with a small marketplace for customers to buy nifty consumer goods made through 3-D printing.
With 3-D printing emerging as an industry that could revolutionize American manufacturing, companies are cashing in. Staples and MakerBot have each taken recent steps to make 3-D printers more accessible to the average consumer and one company in Canada has even created a device that will let you 3-D print in Nutella.
Related: No Sci-Fi Here: Your Own Personal Robot Is Coming
Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.