Tag Archives: 3D printers

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.


Innovative Products Being Made on 3D Printers

3D printers are one of the most exciting new products to come to market in the last few years. When combined with CAD drafting skills, 3D printing enables both small companies and individual consumers to create complex products that before could only be created with industrial-grade machinery. Some of the innovative products being created in the field of 3D printing include:

  • A home 3D printer you can buy piece by piece – One of the biggest barriers to widespread consumer usage of 3D printers is the price point. Many people who are interested in learning to use 3D printers and creating with them simply can’t afford to pay for one all at once. British publisher Eaglemoss is currently targeting those exact consumers, offering their Vector 3 3D printer in monthly installments of £6.99. While the 90 month timeframe is a big commitment, Eaglemoss’s plan to have would-be 3D printer users get pieces of a 3D printer shipped to them every month through a subscription to their 3D Create & Print partwork magazine is a big initial step toward making 3D printers a staple item in the average home.
  • Personalized bicycle helmets with built-in crumple zones – Sebastian Conran, the designer of the Vector 3 3D printer mentioned above that Eaglemoss is currently selling piece by piece, is also hard at work using his 3D printers to create the perfect bicycle helmets, ones that are designed to fit each individual user’s head, and which have impact-absorbing crumple zones built into their design to provide improved levels of protection. Conran compares his conception of these custom helmets to shoes – we’re used to buying shoes that come in sizes that are made to fit the particular shape of our feet, so why can’t we do the same for the bicycle helmets that can save lives and prevent serious injury? Using digital scanning to map out the exact shape of people’s heads, Conran is hard at work making that level of personalization the standard for the future of bicycle helmets.
  • Consumer grade 3D printers will allow the modification of home items – Conran and other 3D printing advocates are already imagining the evolution of the 3D printer from an industrial-grade tool for specialists, to a true consumer-grade product that can be used regularly in any normal household. One of the first things for which consumer-level 3D printers will likely be used is the creation of replacement parts for household items. Instead of shipping items through the mail or a delivery service, they can instead email the 3D plans directly to the consumer and have them be printed out in their own home.
  • CAD software and 3D printing could combine into a consumer revolution – With the widespread use and availability of computer aided design (CAD) software, the combination of both 3D printers and design programs on the consumer level could change the way products are manufactured and sold. With a few lessons or tutorials in CAD design, individual consumers can learn the basics of designing their own products and replacement parts for everything from furniture, to tools, to electronics. While each person’s level of design skills will affect what they can create for themselves, 3D printing is likely to open up many new doors to individuals and families to create their own products for less than the ones now available for purchase.

For more information on how CAD and 3D printers are being combined to innovate the design industry, contact Q-CAD today at 800-700-3305.