Most everybody on the planet has heard of eBay, where goods are bought and sold every second of every day. Noticing that 3D printing has all but reached the mainstream masses, the company has decided to provide its services to those looking to create their own products.
Sure, there are 3D printers on the market that are cheaper than they were five years ago; however, there are some who still cannot afford to purchase their own machine but have that creative itch. This is where eBay comes in, announcing they have released a new app that allows users to customize personal product designs and then have them manufactured.
Example of a 3D printed piece of jewelry from eBay Exact.
(Source: eBay Exact)
eBay Exact lets users choose from a pool of predetermined designs that they can then customize and purchase on the go. The company has teamed up with Makerbot (US), Sculpteo (France), and Hot Pot Factory (Canada) to produce users' customized merchandise. As with the traditional eBay mobile app, customers can pay for their designs using a myriad of options, including PayPal.
The products are not customized by any division of eBay. Rather, the app links to the respective manufacturer who customizes the product and then ships the item directly to the customer after it has been paid for. As it stands right now, the app is only available to users of iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch mobile devices, but Android user can be rest assured it will be available to them sometime in the near future.
Since eBay Exact is still in its infancy, there are currently only 20 or so items made of plastic, wood, and metal that can be customized. These include smartphone cases, some jewelry, figurines, and a few other tchotchkes that can even be engraved, which increases the customizability of the products.
They range in price, as well, depending on the material used. For example, a simple iPhone case clocks in at about $9 US. A metal ring might sell for as much as $350.
Using the app is simple -- just choose the item you wish to purchase, scroll through a set of predetermined customizable options (color, material, etc.), and then proceed to check out. According to eBay, after the item has been purchased, it takes anywhere from 7 to 14 business days (or typical shipping days) to receive it.
While the items currently being offered on the app may be minimal at this point, it will not take long for the list to grow once more people start to warm to the idea of customizable gifts that can be purchased on the fly. You can also count on other businesses to jump on the 3D printing bandwagon and release their own mobile apps, which will most certainly bring a boatload of items that can altered to our liking.