March 12, 2014, 4:25 PM

Amazon starts selling products created by 3-D printers

3-D printing company 3DLT joins a pilot program for selling 3-D-printed products on Amazon’s marketplace under a newly created category.

Lead Photo Inc. has begun a pilot program selling 3-D printed goods through its e-marketplace. Five companies, including 3-D printing technology provider 3DLT, are the first sellers in the program.

3-D printing creates a three-dimensional solid object from a digital model. Though 3-D printing is mostly used for prototypes and samples today, retailer 3DLT says that the future of 3-D printing is in consumer goods. 

“We’re thrilled to be included in the pilot,” says chief operating officer Colin Klayer. “We think 3-D print­on­demand will be very attractive to companies who want access to a new, digital channel. It will also be appealing to independent designers who’ve told us they want access to a large consumer market.” 

The company lists about 50 products on Amazon’s marketplace, ranging from jewelry to home décor to tech accessories, and plans to add more items in the future.  Amazon debuted the new category on March 4, says 3DLT CEO John J. Hauer Jr. 3DLT prints products based on designs submitted by independent designers. It sells on Amazon, eBay Inc. and through other retailers, Hauer says. Amazon, No. 1 in the 2013 Top 500, declined to provide further details. 

Amazon’s pilot program comes after competing shopping portal operator eBay released in July a mobile app dedicated to selling custom 3-D-printed products, like iPhone cases and jewelry. The app, called eBay Exact, offers about 20 items from three printers:  Brooklyn-based MakerBot, the French company Sculpteo and the Canadian firm Hot Pop Factory. The items can be customized on the app and are shipped directly from each 3-D printer’s facilities.

Eventually, Hauer says that 3DLT and other 3-D printers will be able to sell products both as items printed on demand and as digital designs that customers can print for themselves if they have their own 3-D printers.

“There will be times when it makes sense to buy a product off the shelf and others when and where it makes sense to manufacture on-demand,” Hauer writes in a recent 3DLT blog post. “Consumers will make that decision for a variety of reasons, and soon, instead of asking, ‘what can be 3-D printed,’ they might be asking, ‘why can’t this be 3D printed?’” 

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