Amazon Is Getting in on 3-D Printing

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
July 28 2014 12:52 PM

Amazon Is Getting in on 3-D Printing

There's so much twisting and swirling that you can control in this pendant.

Screencap from Amazon.

If you want to 3-D-print some My Little Pony figurines of your own design, the Internet respects that and will take care of you. But that might sound a little too (what's the right way to say this?) niche for some people. So Amazon now has a 3-D Printed Products store, too, offering more than 200 customizable trinkets.

You might be thinking that this sounds like Shapeways, the expansive playground for 3-D-printed goods that's been around since 2007. And you’d be right! But competition is finally heating up with 3-D printing, and new services include an iOS app from eBay that allows customers to design items for 3-D printing while on the move.


Amazon's store offers designs for jewelry, bobbleheads, smartphone cases, and more that can be tweaked and customized by the buyer before printing. But Amazon isn’t doing the actual manufacturing here. Instead, the 3-D Printed Products store is a portal where third-party sellers can hawk their wares through Amazon's recognizable interface.

Petra Schindler-Carter, the director of Amazon Marketplace sales, said in a press release, “The introduction of our 3D Printed Products store suggests the beginnings of a shift in online retail—that manufacturing can be more nimble to provide an immersive customer experience.”

Amazon getting in on the game doesn’t change the limitations of 3-D printing or help answer the open question of where it will actually go in terms of personalized manufacturing. But the more competition there is in the space, the quicker it will become clear what people are looking for.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.


Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Sept. 17 2014 10:36 AM MacArthur Fellow Alison Bechdel Recounts Telling Her Mother About Her Best-Selling Memoir MacArthur Fellow Alison Bechdel recounts telling her mother about her best-selling memoir.
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Sept. 17 2014 11:06 AM Inside the Exclusive World of Members-Only Clubs
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 11:14 AM How Does That Geometry Problem Make You Feel? Computer tutors that can read students’ emotions.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.