When I went to order PLA filament for the first time for my 3D printer, I started with a list of suppliers on the RepRap Suppliers wiki. I systematically went through and clicked on all the websites and compared their prices. After going through the list, I was really surprised that none had a decent website, great prices (except for Chinese suppliers) or a large variety. I felt like I was looking at the early days of the internet.
Since I have an Amazon Prime account, I decided to check out what they had for PLA filament. I ended up finding exactly what I needed and it arrived the following afternoon for the same price as it would have cost from these other websites. I didn’t really think much of it at the time, but a link existed at the top of the page to access Amazon’s dedicated 3D Printing Store. Over the last few days I have seen quite a few blog posts regarding Amazon’s new storefront and talk that Amazon might be interested in purchasing Makerbot. Does this represent the next step for the 3D printing industry?
Based on the supplier websites I have seen, the market definitely has room for a big competitor to come in and push the industry forward. It does put the technology in front of a much wider audience, but the dedicated store really isn’t that amazing…yet. Yes, they sell the Makerbot, the poster child of 3D printing, but otherwise, it is a mediocre list of 3D printers. A lot of the products listed in the store are not actually sold directly from Amazon, so no free shipping. It is more of an amalgamation of third-party sellers. In addition, the store is currently listed under the ‘Industrial and Scientific’ department, far away from the eyes of the average Amazon consumer. While this isn’t the game changer, I am sure Amazon will be rapidly improving their 3d printing store and expanding the variety of products they sell. Only time will tell what this really means for the 3D printing industry.