Monday, 27 May 2013

3D Printing No Impact on Amazon says Jeff Bezos

At a shareholder meeting, Jeff Bezos CEO of Amazon was asked about the impact of 3D Printing on his business model. He replied:

Inside one Amazon warehouse
"I think the answer to that is, not anytime soon ... That's far, far in the future ... You can't build interesting objects with limited materials .... Even incredibly simple objects like a toaster have dozens of materials."

Bezos thinks that 3D Printing is super interesting, but for prototyping not mass production.

Is he right?

Amazon sells and ships complete 'end user' products? What about 'end use' components in the supply chain of those companies for which Amazon is the retail distribution front end?

It will be decades (or more) before 3D Printing has any measurable impact on Amazon's distribution model.  Over those same decades the extent to which AM is contributing to the production of end use components within those products is both a complex question and a subject of debate.

The real impact of 3D Printing is likely to be the creation of entirely new product categories, including 3D Printers themselves, and not the replacement of traditional manufacturing.

You'll know when 3D Printing is making a significant impact on manufacturing. It will be when Jeff Bezos works out how he can start to assemble and manufacture, and not just to ship. Until then, expect Amazon to sell 3D Printers and 3D Printer Supplies just as Plastic Filament. And that's precisely what they have started to do.

Amazon has opened a product category for Additive Manufacturing within their Industrial and Scientific products space.

To understand the scale of Amazon's business view images of Amazon warehouses around the world.

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