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Attention Internet Shoppers—Amazon Is Getting Into the 3D Printing Industry!

3d printingIt looks like Google isn’t the only online company making big moves to stay ahead of the technology curve. Online shopping website Amazon.com recently announced that they were getting into the 3D printing business, and we think it’s a sign of great things to come!

Last week, Amazon said that online shoppers will now be able to buy 3D printed products on-demand from a list of 200 different items, anything from to miniature plastic swords to pet ID tags. The technology lets people customize their orders beyond what has been previously possible on the online retailing site, like bobbleheads made to look like family and friends. Gizmodo.com has a list here of five of the coolest things you can buy from the Amazon 3D printing store!

“The introduction of our 3D Printed Products store suggests the beginnings of a shift in online retail,” says Petra Schindler-Carter, director for Amazon’s marketplace sales, tells Fortune magazine. “Manufacturing can be more nimble to provide an immersive customer experience.” By introducing 3D printing, Amazon is letting more people see what the technology can do, even though some of the novelty of seeing the 3D printing process is lost through an online order.

Amazon doesn’t actually handle the printing. Rather, it’s done by Mixee Labs, a company specializing in selling plastic 3D printed nicknacks. Amazon’s partnership with Mixee is huge boost to other mom and pop 3D printing businesses like MakerBot and Shapeways. Amazon’s huge name in the online retail business is sure to attract a lot of shoppers to the market.

Sadly, there are some downsides to Amazon’s 3D printing store. First, the products available through the partnership aren’t cheap. A 3D printed bobblehead costs $30 compared with versions made on an assembly line that cost around $12. And if anyone is expecting a speedy shipping, they’re out of luck. Orders through Amazon for 3D products can take up to ten business days to fill.

But look on the bright side: this is further proof that technology is constantly moving forward in the right direction. “There’s big potential for 3D printing in the consumer and retail space,” says Tim Shepherd, senior analyst at Canalys who is focused on the 3D printing industry. 3D printing is already pretty commonplace in other manufacturing and industrial designs, especially in the auto making industry.

“It’s going to get people more excited,” Shepherd says about the whole endeavor. It may even encourage people to go out and buy a 3D printer to use in their own garage. “I don’t think it’s going to have a negative impact at all.” It’s definitely something to get excited about!

photo credit: soumit via photopin cc

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