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3-D Printing Comes To Amazon 62

An anonymous reader writes Promising "an appstore for the physical world," Amazon has just unveiled their new online market for products created using a 3-D printer. "Customization gives customers the power to remix their world," explains the co-founder of Mixee Labs (an Amazon partner), "and we want to change the way people shop online." Amazon's ability to sell you things before they've even been built is currently limited mostly to novelties like iPhone cases, jewelry, and bobbleheads that look like you. But this could be the beginning of mainstream 3D printing.
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3-D Printing Comes To Amazon

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  • Strength (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @01:49PM (#47559137)

    Are the products of 3D printers actually strong/hard enough for real world application? Something like a phone case needs to be tough enough to resist abrasion or it will shred in contact with hard objects. The material needs to be tough enough and hard enough that the snaps around the edges don't fail after a few of operations.

    I haven't actually used this stuff so I sincerely don't know.

    • Re:Strength (Score:5, Informative)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @02:26PM (#47559471) Journal
      Depends on what you pay.

      A poorly calibrated fused filament unit will produce stringy junk that delaminates if you look at it funny. A well calibrated one will achieve something reasonably close to what the plastic it is using is actually capable of. Outside the cheap seats, you can print all kinds of things(especially if you count parts that require one or more additional processing steps as '3d printed'. Printing wax, for example, is pretty undemanding, and allows you to do lost-wax casts of more or less any shape that will cast properly, without needing a printer that can sinter or melt metals. Some of the techniques for producing ceramics are in the same vein, the printer just needs to tack the ceramic material together long enough for firing, which takes care of the mechanical properties.)

      The one thing that is (relatively) easy with injection molding that 3d printing (to my knowledge) isn't so hot for is overmolds. When injection molding you can use insert molding or multi-shot systems to achieve the (enormously common and fairly popular) combination of a rigid plastic structure with an elastomeric surface treatment for grip or aesthetic reasons. For prototyping purposes you can get paint-like coatings that emulate elastomeric overmolds that you can brush on to 3d printed parts; but the quality isn't as good and production takes longer.
      • "A poorly calibrated fused filament unit will produce stringy junk that delaminates if you look at it funny. A well calibrated one will achieve something reasonably close to what the plastic it is using is actually capable of. "

        Fortunately Amazon can spend more than 2000 dollars on these printers so in essence, they can print _anything_, guns included if they did choose so.

        • The really nice stuff is still pretty expensive per unit volume, even aside from the purchase price, so Amazon probably isn't interested; but they are almost definitely using relatively nice plastic printers.
    • Something like a phone case needs to be tough enough to resist abrasion or it will shred in contact with hard objects

      Depends. If the case's destruction allowed it to dissipate enough instantaneous kinetic energy to save your phone's display from an expensive repair job, the loss of that 99c case might not necessarily be a bad thing. I've seen drops bad enough to crack the hard inner shell of an Otterbox Defender. Like the time my brother put his phone down on the roof of his car, then forgot about it before driving away. It hit the ground at a *minimum* of 20mph. The case was destroyed, but the phone inside was unscathed.

  • by Ecuador ( 740021 )
    Perhaps they should wait a bit until they had something more interesting to launch? They are just some quite expensive novelties for now. Perhaps when you can print your own tiny violin things will start to get interesting.
    • I agree. Furthermore, why make an egg now? Fuck that, wait for a chicken first, THEN make an egg. Greedy fucking ovipares always jumping the gun...
    • Is this going to be like the class trip to the State Capitol? There are these "souvenir" machines into which you place some coins. It is not injection molding as that would produce something semi-durable. Rather, it is vacuum forming where in a process somewhat but not completely unlike glass blowing, this really cheesy soft plastic is pushed against a mold, only the machine puts on a show that it is doing something important. And out pops this floppy statue of the head and shoulders (I think the sculpt
    • You mean like this: http://openfabpdx.com/fffiddle... [openfabpdx.com]

      Consider that box checked!

  • by resistant ( 221968 ) on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @02:00PM (#47559209) Homepage Journal

    I know this makes me a boring person who should be stripped of his nerd card, but I'd really like to use this or a similar service to get a small replacement part printed for an old refrigerator's freezer-door hinge. It broke a long time ago, and I've been propping the door on the remnant of the bottom hinge. Needless to say, the needed part is no longer available, and trying to hack a crude replacement for it promises to be just enough trouble that I've been putting it off for lo these many years. If I could somehow translate what I see of the part into a simple CAD model for Amazon, I'd be happy to pay $10 or so just to avoid the fuss of trying to drill and hammer and cut my way to a solution.

    In the classic Slashdot tradition, of course, I haven't paid much attention yet to Amazon's pricing structure, which will undoubted turn out to be unreasonable for such small matters. Still, I'm looking forward to an eventual explosion in availability of quick three-dimensional approximation scanners and small-scale solid-matter printers in corner stores where I can take the pieces to be translated into a reasonable facsimile of the original part.

    • Amazon's offering is substantially less flexible than that of existing players (shapeways is the name that comes to mind; but there are others), who already accept basically any STL that isn't horribly munged in some way and spit the result out in a number of different materials.

      You still have to model the part, or buy a (currently rather expensive) 3d scanner to do it; but if you are willing to put on your CAD hat, you could have the part by next week, just not from Amazon. I wonder if they are just mov
      • Yeah. I saw this coming years ago. 3D printers are going to kill businesses like Warhammer, because their entire business is built around charging large amounts of money for small figurines that you could easily churn out on a 3D printer. Especially when you consider you're supposed to paint them yourself anyway. Either the presence of cheap 3D printers, or the availability of 3D printers for hire will make printing your own pieces all too easy. $50 for some small figurines is completely ridiculous when y
        • I suspect that, at very least, 3d printing servics will be harassed (like youtube vs. the music labels) about this possibility, and some users will definitely try it.

          The one thing that(as much as it surprises me) makes me a trifle skeptical of the lethality is that doing resin(or wood's metal or similar alloys if you want some extra weight and don't mind a little cadmium) castings from figurines isn't rocket surgery, especially for people with enough interest and fine motor skills to paint the things, an
    • So, you will go to your local national-chain hardware store, some zit-faced teen will take the hinge, put it into a scanner, disappear "into the back", come back with the new part still warm from the process, and tell you, "Take this up front and tell them to charge to twelve dollars."

      You will then take it home and then figure that it is a tenth mm too big in all dimensions to fit?

    • by MobyDisk ( 75490 )

      No, this is the essence of nerd. And maker. No need to strip you of your card.

      The hard part is that you have to design it yourself. Sinec you call yourself a nerd, I recommend downloading Blender or OpenScad and give it a try. Just send me the STL file and I'll happily print it for you. You can find me, or any of my clones, at your local hackerspace.

      • I didn't know Blender could be used for that purpose. I'll look into Blender's CAD features and OpenSCAD both. I'd be happy to take advantage of your offer to print out these stupid little parts at a nominal cost for each plus shipping. (I looked again, and the top hinge also needs to be replaced as soon as I can figure out how it looked originally.) It might take me a while to overcome the learning curve for one or both of these CAD programs, though. I need to become thoroughly familiar with CAD anyway for

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @02:04PM (#47559255)

    The real issue right now with 3D Printing, most of the stuff you can print is stuff most people really don't need.

    The last time I wished I could have a 3D printer was to replace a Worm Gear for my Garage Door Opener. That was about 6 Months ago.

    For decoration, I really don't want Cheap Plastic decorations, and a new phone case isn't that interesting either.

    Right now 3D Printing is really still for industry.

    • I would love occasional access to a 3D printer, but I don't need my own yet. There are a bunch of GoPro mounts I could be printing which would be very handy for me.. but am I going to spend a thousand dollars to print 5 or 6 things? No, but I would pay a bit of money to just get the custom stuff I want printed. Luckily, my local library just set up a 3D printer we can use. So.. looks like libraries are cool again.
      • Which is where this is going.

        Upload the mount to Amazon they print and ship it to you.

        It is still more expensive than the mass produced items. But it is comparable to the one off customs

    • by Anonymous Coward

      a fried of mine was able to 3d print a replacemnt latch handle for his truck tailgate. seems to be holding up fine.

    • I have to disagree, there are certain areas where 3D printed items are usefully filling gaps in the market.

      One group is model railway people who now have many previously unobtainable items made this way. Interesting the first hackers were model railroaders too ! See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H... [wikipedia.org]

      I'm one of the small scale manufacturers who makes his living by selling 3-d printed model trains, both direct to public through Shapeways ( https://www.shapeways.com/shop... [shapeways.com] ) and reselling things I get printed

      • While I am not trying to belittle your hobbies. But Model Trains isn't for everyone, and a lot of peoples hobbies are not about making toys.

        Sure if you are making toys, then fine, If I was a 7 year old kid, and I had access to a 3d printer, I would be printing out all kinds of cool stuff, from guns for my action figures, to special Lego blocks.

        But my hobbies and interests today do not require too much plastic parts. And the occasional replacement part isn't worth the expense.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @02:10PM (#47559309) Homepage

    But this could be the beginning of mainstream 3D printing.

    We heard that when Staples did it. [myeasy3d.com]

    Amazon's 3D printed product offerings are rather lame. [amazon.com] They're not offering any of the more advanced 3D printing processes; for that you have to go to Shapeways. All you can get from Amazon is plastic junk.

  • With Staples' My Easy 3d you can print ANYTHING! It looks like Amazon's solution is to let you personalize objects, not create your own.

    http://staples.myeasy3d.com/in... [myeasy3d.com]

    Amazon's 3D Print... uhmm well all I can say is LAME!

  • http://3dprintingindustry.com/... [3dprintingindustry.com]

    Ohh, silly me. Amazon took over the marketplace, so now it's new again.

  • Can they print a whistle in only three hours?

    After all, these things go for 25 cents a pop at a party store.

  • Big deal. There are already people doing great 3D printing that I can access over the Internet. (I have not used them but a good friend has and the results are pretty good.) So I don't need Amazon for that. And on top of that, Amazon is now charging sales tax for my state even though they currently have no legal presence in my state. So if I'm ordering on-line I would rather do it from someone who's primary focus is 3D printing and who will not charge me tax. Let me know when Amazon has a printer installed
  • 4 front-facing camera 3D system with gyroscopic sensors may make for a neat "dynamic perspective."

    I'd rather use them to take 3D scans of things I'd like replicated (with or without modifications) through a 3D printing service like this.

  • It's "an app store for the physical world"? Or in other words, it's a store.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Now I can print off a single shower curtain ring next time one of mine fails at a cost approaching that of several packages of new shower curtain rings!

  • The Beginning? Absolutely not. Amazon may have a wider market and may play a big part in the popularization of it, but Shapeways has already done "the beginning" of mainstream 3D printing, so Amazon can't do that. Don't think it's the mainstream? Try checking out the types of people using it. Not just engineers, hobbyists, and avant-garde artists.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"