Amazon seems to be obsessed with offering quick delivery. The company has long offered 1-day and 2-day shipping. Amazon recently launched Amazon Prime Now in New York City, allowing customers to order products that can be delivered in as little as 60 minutes. And the company’s been working on a delivery-by-drone service called Amazon Prime Air for a while.
But it looks like Amazon may have another idea for getting goods to your door quickly: 3D printing them on the way.
Amazon has filed for a patent on 3D printing technology that, among other things, would involve 3D printers placed in moving vehicles.
The idea is that you’d be able to order a 3D printable item from the Amazon website, and the company would be able to figure out the best way to get to you either by sending it to a 3D printer in your home, near a pick-up location, or on a truck that’s already scheduled to be near your home or workplace.
If the order is sent to one of those mobile units, the item could be manufactured on demand on a truck while it’s on the way to your location. The trucks wouldn’t necessarily be used exclusively for printing: for instance a printer could be placed on an Amazon Fresh delivery vehicle so that the same truck could deliver groceries to your neighbor and jewelry, smartphone cases, toys, or other printed goods to you.
There’s no guarantee Amazon will launch a mobile 3D printing service. Companies file for patents on concepts that never see the light of day all the time. But given Amazon’s ever-increasing focus on quick delivery, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the company launch a mobile manufacturing-on-demand service.