Amazon Is Getting in on 3-D Printing

Future Tense
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.


Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Space: The Next Generation
Oct. 19 2014 11:45 PM An All-Female Mission to Mars As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.