Amazon Makes Plans for Delivery Trucks Equipped with 3D Printers

As we’ve discussed in previous entries, 3D drafting is responsible for new levels of productivity and efficiency in design and manufacturing. From small batch artisans to large corporations, 3D printers are allowing CAD software-designed products to be created faster and with greater accuracy. As use of 3D printing technology expands, it will likely continue to have a large impact on many different industries for years to come.

One of the latest pieces of news detailing just how wide 3D printing’s influence spreads is the revelation that e-commerce giant Amazon has filed patents for 3D printing devices that can be installed directly into delivery trucks, creating a mobile fleet of vehicles that can produce and deliver products at the same time. Amazon has been experimenting with new delivery methods recently, including their much discussed plan to use a fleet of unmanned drones as delivery vehicles, but its 3D printer truck plans are an innovative way to combine two different, time-consuming processes into one.

Early Stages

While the company has not yet been awarded the patents for its proposed truck-mounted 3D printers, the prospect that combination manufacturing/delivery vehicles will soon be deployed by a company as large as Amazon is a fascinating one. The company has come to dominate online retail through its discount prices and fast delivery times. If Amazon does successfully create this new fleet of vehicles, it’s conceivable that they will be able to improve both, forcing competitors to adopt similar methods to be able to compete with Amazon in the e-commerce sphere.

In the documents discussing the patents obtained by The Wall Street Journal, Amazon says, “Time delays between receiving an order and shipping the item to the customer may reduce customer satisfaction and affect revenues generated.” If the integration of mobile 3D printing units into its delivery fleet does manage to reduce the time between when an order is placed and the product is delivered, it will set a new standard for delivery that customers will expect to be met. Furthermore, being able to assemble products in its delivery vehicles will reduce the amount of warehouse space Amazon needs to house its products, leading to the company being able to lower its prices even further.

Increased Manufacturing Productivity

Because of the wide variety of mediums that 3D printers can use, these proposed mobile manufacturing vehicles could impact the way many different items are created and delivered. While it’s likely that not every item in Amazon’s online store could be manufactured in such a way, those that could will be easier and cheaper to obtain. It will also likely make it easier and less expensive to receive replacement parts, which would be able to be printed on demand instead of obtained through the manufacturer as they are available.

Through the use of 3D printing and CAD software, Amazon is on the verge of creating a revolution in the way manufacturing and product delivery work. While the exact impact that the company’s plans make won’t be seen for several more years, other companies will probably start to follow Amazon’s lead, and find ways to incorporate digital design and 3D printing into their creation processes as soon as possible.

Want to learn even more about how CAD and 3D printing are impacting design and manufacturing? You can speak to a Q-CAD representative by calling 800-700-3305.


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