Jeff Bezos on 3D Printing
Kyle Maxey posted on May 29, 2013 |

bezos, amazon, marketplace, future, 3d printing, distributionLast Thursday, Amazon investors met at the Seattle Center to review the company’s future business strategy and also pose questions to Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO.

Among the numerous questions that Bezos fielded, one of the more speculative and, in my opinion, interesting . The questions was whether 3D printing would change the way products were manufactured and distributed in the near future.

Bezos was skeptical that a “3D printing Revolution” was right around the corner saying, "I think the answer to that is, not anytime soon… That's far, far in the future." But the Amazon CEO didn’t completely dismiss the idea admitting that “I think 3D printing is super interesting," but that it’s near term future was more suited for prototyping.

For Bezos 3D Printing’s big break will come when the technology matures to a point where complex, multi-material objects can be produced in a single operation.  Bezos cited the toaster as an example of a seemingly simple device that, in fact, requires a number of materials and system for it to function properly. His opinion comes down to this: With today’s 3D printers, “you can’t build interesting objects”.

Overall, I think that Bezos’ assessment of 3D printing's near-term potential is more correct than I’d like it to be.  But I’m hesitant to say that 3D printing isn’t creating interesting objects. In the last year alone GE has started using 3D printers to build parts of its jet engines, and NASA is also looking into a number of ways the tech can be used in future missions.

But beyond the question that was asked of Bezos, I’m curious whether he feels like 3D printed objects will find themselves being sold via Amazon in the near term? It seems to me that hosting and distributing 3D printed goods on Amazon wouldn’t cost the company much, and it might put them at the forefront of the 3D printing revolution, if it ever occurs.

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