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Amazon to offer 3D printing?

January 9, 2018

The online giant’s patent for 3D printing might worry smaller businesses unable to compete.

As of the 2nd of January, online retail megalith Amazon holds the patent for a 3D printing production system, which can accept custom orders, for either pick-up or delivery. This is different to the 3D printing section of its website, which still only offers hardware and supplies for 3D printing, rather than a custom offering, reports SupplyChainDive.

Its ability to print parts on demand, for example to fix furniture, appliances, and other household items, offers convenience for the customer, but could spark concern among traditional hardware stores, who may well feel the company muscle in on their slice of the market.

SupplyChainDive, however, speculate on the target market of such a move, claiming that although millennials are more inclined to pay for doorstep delivery, they are less likely to actually own their own home. Meanwhile, those in so-called Generation X own homes, but are congregated in suburbs, where traditional hardware and home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s tend to be placed.

Bad news is forecast, though, for small parts manufacturers, who are already facing competition from 3D printing startups which are making parts at quicker speed and lower price. It is thought that Amazon joining the parts party could increase competition, and therefore threaten businesses, further.

Currently, the e-commerce titan only holds the patents – the rest is speculation; but SupplyChainDive recommends that traditional hardware stores and small parts manufacturers begin to re-evaluate their business plans, just in case Amazon shows its hand.


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