3D printing is on fire as a trend in small business. It seems everybody is talking about 3D printers and suddenly more places are opening up online where you can purchase these extraordinary devices. Even online retailing giant Amazon — which sells nearly anything else you can think of — has jumped on the 3D printer bandwagon.
The retailer recently opened up a new Amazon 3D printer store, making the machines easier and more convenient to purchase.
Small businesses can use 3D printers for everything from creating prototypes for new products, to industrial design models, and even small scale manufacturing of jewelry or similar items, as we noted last month. You create a digital file of an item you want to produce, and then “print it” on-premise. Printing involves layering plastic or another material until it builds up and turns into your item. Usually the items are made out of plastic, but you can find 3D printers that use metal and even chocolate or cheese to make items.
We took a peek at the Amazon 3D store recently. There are about 35 listings for 3D printers currently. The 3D printers are expensive. The lowest priced machine available is nearly $1,100 but it received just 2 out of 5 stars in its one review. The best one available at the most competitive price would be the Flashforge 3D printer at $1,199.
Along with printers, Amazon also has collected in one spot on its sites a variety of items you might need or want for 3-printing, including plastic filament (the material you make items out of), 3-D printing books, CAD design software, and parts and accessories for 3D printers.
A recent TechCrunch article reports the new Amazon store will feature printers from companies like Afinia and Flashforge. But the store also allows owners of 3D printers by Makerbot, a popular brand, to sell their used machines. So if that 3D printing experiment doesn’t work out, well, you can always try to sell it.
There are other places to get the printers too.
Staples began selling them in May, for example. And other brands are available for sale from manufacturer websites.
But availability of these machines from the world’s biggest online retailer places them more in the mainstream.