Amazon Has a Plan to 3D-Print Straight From Its Delivery Trucks

Drones? Food delivery? College bookstores? All of that pales in comparison to what Internet retail giant Amazon has in the works, according to a new patent filed on February 19, which details the company’s plans to not just deliver your order, but to create it right on the delivery truck.

Think about that for a second — you place an order on Amazon, one of several roving delivery trucks receives said order, fires up the 3D-printing machine in the back, and then proceeds to drop off your new waffle iron inside of a given time window. At its core, that is what Amazon hopes to accomplish one day, and is apparently serious enough about it to actually file the paperwork with the patent office.

“Techniques described herein include systems for providing items manufactured on demand to users,” reads the filing. “For example, a user can submit an order for an item offered in an electronic marketplace and request that the item be manufactured on demand by a manufacturing apparatus, e.g., a three-dimensional (3D) manufacturing apparatus.”

The key term buried in that passage is “items manufactured on demand”, which would constitute the actual production of a physical object from “a three-dimensional manufacturing apparatus” (3D printer), and bring it right to your door. Suppliers and traditional manufacturers of the products being produced (or reproduced) by Amazon’s 3D printers would be relegated to the role of simply providing instructions, and their blessing, to this new system. This makes Amazon trucks factories on wheels, churning out products from any number of suppliers that would be willing to work within the system. … (read more)