We may be on our way to 3-D printing things like organs and houses, and perhaps clothing even sooner, but at the moment, one of the most popular items to 3-D print, and subsequently sell, is jewelry.
3-D printed baubles are pretty widely available online through sites like Etsy and Shapeways, but now you can buy them right alongside your books, home appliances and whatever else you might need on Amazon.
On Monday, the e-commerce giant launched a new 3-D Printed Products store, from which customers can purchase print-on-demand items (meaning the item isn't necessarily printed until you order it from the seller). Much of what's offered is customizable via an on-site application, which is new to the 3-D store.
For instance, if you wanted to get this cute stainless steel knot ring, you could choose from a selection of finishes, and easily customize the size of the ring topper, the "knottinesss," the ring size and the ring band, without worrying about what's in stock or the extra costs often associated with personalization. The options are easy to select and a 360-degree virtual preview of your selection is generated instantly. It's kind of a dream shopping experience.
The only problem: While a few established jewelry brands like Pamela Love and Kimberly Ovitz have dabbled in 3-D printed jewelry, much of what's out there isn't exactly stylish or on-trend. It all just looks 3-D printed, kind of like how most wearable tech just looks like wearable tech. Much of it is very futuristic and plastic-y, and while a lot of people might be into that, it could take some time before fashion people get on board. That said, a few higher-end stores, including Neiman Marcus, have tested the waters.
Still, as many people will tell you, 3-D printing is most likely the way of the future when it comes to design, fashion and retail, and Amazon is getting in early. Not only does the new store make 3-D printed objects available to the masses, but it also provides a major opportunity for 3-D designers to get their wares sold. Those interested in becoming sellers can visit this page.