Amazon.com Inc. is moving in to try to get an early piece of the action with a 3-D printing marketplace that launched Monday with more than 200 print-on-demand products, some of which are highly customizable.
3-D printers function like normal printers, but instead of ink on paper, they use plastic, metal or some other material to construct a simple three-dimensional object. That places the emphasis on the design of the product rather than its manufacture. And while there are some printers available for home use, the goods on the Amazon marketplace are ordered online, printed out by the seller and shipped like other goods.
Petra Schindler-Carter, director for Amazon Marketplace sales, said it’s still “early days” for 3-D printing. Amazon.com carries 3-D printers and supplies and the interest in the category was part of what convinced the company to dig in deeper.
“This is the first time on Amazon that we’ve built such an experience that allows users to leave their own mark on a product,” Schindler-Carter said.
Among the offerings is a $45 knotty ring from Mixee Labs, which is 3-D printed in bronze-infused stainless steel. Users can choose the color of the metal, the size and knottiness of the topper, the thickness and size of the band.
There are also bracelets with customized messages in braille and pendants and earrings, the designs of which can be tweaked in a variety of ways.
3-D printing could lead businesses to a new mind-set since it eliminates the burden of inventory.
“You get some of these independent jewelry designers who are awesome at their craft, but it is an investment to produce these products,” Schindler-Carter said. “3-D printing is a great way for them to…iterate fast and find a success fast.”
So merchants can let users design their own products, see what’s popular and take it from there.