Amazon launched a 3D Printing Store a few months ago, but only recently have they been promoting the Creative Expressions department, which encourages customers to adjust the parameters of the 3D printed items they order.
Just move the sliders, above, and you can make that ring super big, more knotty, and silver instead of gold.
This new ride at the Amazon theme park garnered a lot of attention last week, perhaps because it is uniquely 3D printerly. It makes the shop distinctly different — more interactive — than Etsy, for example. But in fact a number of online 3D printed marketplaces have been offering “customization” for a while.
Starting with MixeeLabs, the service that’s powering Amazon’s customization offering. Mixee’s best known product line is probably its moderately customizable bobblehead dolls.
Sculpteo has a collection of customizable designs. You can customize your 3D-printed ring at Shapeways.
MakerBot’s Thingiverse has also gotten into the game, with its “Customizer.”
Check out the Customizable Tree to see how it works.
Finally there’s Uformit, based in Norway, which really specializes in personalization.
A recent project with artist Joshua Harker allows you to adjust the pattern of his Self Portrait Mask, and even scan your face so that it will fit you exactly.
The ability to customize a 3D printed item before you buy it — just by using your browser — is an exciting option, one that takes advantage of 3D printing’s ability to economically print one-offs with modest variations.
Amazon has taken a step towards introducing the concept to a general audience, but a host of 3D printing startups are helping to advance the idea as well.