3D printers, awesome as they are, are not nearly half as accessible or as abundant as the more conventional paper printers that everyone is used to. The actual printers are also still rather expensive and out of the reach of the average consumer so even if he or she was able to customize and use it the cost of buying the printer will simply be too much. So from all appearances it looks like physical shipping from the Amazon store will still be the way out for a while to come.
Clinton, thanks for pointing out that this could also potentially affect engineers, as well as end-consumers, by compensating them for their individual designs. It will be interesting to see if Amazon decides to go that route.
This is a major first step in the evolution of 3D printing use. This service by Amazon will allow ordinary, non-engineering people to order (and personalize to a limited degree) both whimsical and useful objects at affordable prices.
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.
The article doesn't cover this aspect, but I hope that a second benefit will be on the design side. Will Amazon welcome and compensate designers who provide the 3D CAD models that are being made? If so, this provides a mainstream outlet for selling designs for compensation, instead of the DYI or niche websites that exist now (and mostly provide the designs for free).
Well, it certainly didn't take long for a new business model to be created from 3D printing, and also no surprise that Amazon is taking advantage of this. It reminds me of when digital photo printing became a service. It certainly is a good mainstream way for consumers to take advantage of 3D printing.
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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