@Nancy: Indeed because there will be many things that will look positive which were not in the past. Interesting indeed the future will be but we must make sure that these options should not go to wrong hand.
This is the first step in creating mass market awareness and utilization of 3D printing, taking it from the pages of web magazines, newspapers and print magazines, as well as news reports, and putting the end result in people's hands.
I think this is a key observation - through Amazon, 3D printing just became both accessible and affordable. Yes - the future will be interesting indeed...
One thing that jumps out to me is the potential for this to grow the industry exponentially.
You get an Amazon pumping out millions of items, rather than dozens, 100s and so on, and they just plain need more printers and material. Volume improves economies of scale, prices plummet and those of us that use it creatively reap the benefits.
Big volume players also mean more cubic dollars running through the companies making the machines, more for research, more companies trying to make faster, more reliable machines that are going to have to be accessible to less trained folks.
I agree with you, AnandY, which is why I think this Amazon service can bring 3D printing more to people who can't afford it. It's a good start to introduce consumers who this might be cost prohibitive for to the potential of 3D printing.
Clinton, that first suggestion sounds like a great idea for engineers--but I suspect not for Amazon. That's a royalty model you're suggesting, and it would require a different business model on Amazon's end. Administering a royalty system to third-party sellers (engineers), as well as administering the sale of their "objects", would be much more complex on Amazon's end than managing simple sales of "objects" including software designs. Your second suggestion might make more sense for them.
Imagine an app-like pay structure, where the designer of an item gets paid every time someone selects it for printing. The scale of Amazon's userbase could allow someone to make a decent living if her/his designs are popular enough.
Another possibility is using the Amazon 3D printed item as a stepping stone to the purchase of the item in its "real" manufacturing medium. Someone could try a product out and if they like it, buy the "real" one from Amazon or from the designer's own website. The "real" one could offer better textures, more colors, longer life, etc,., things that might not be realized by a 3D printed part.
For avid Amazon shoppers who have access to 3D printers or are able to buy the same, this could very well prove to be the most cost and time efficient way to go about their shopping. Am not sure though about how practical this method is going to be when it comes to the purchase of jewelry. Jewelry, especially expensive jewelry, is mostly valued because of the material out of which it is made. Wouldn't it be too costly to print, say, a diamond wedding ring?
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