Amazon, one of the world’s largest online retailers, has never been one to shy away from pushing the boundaries of internet shopping. Famous for its patented one-click ordering system, which makes it even easier to make all of those sometimes unwanted impulse purchases, Amazon is also arguably building a reputation for some more controversial business plans.
For example, Amazon has recently hit the headlines with a proposal to extend its Amazon Prime delivery service to include an Amazon Prime Air service, which promises 30-minute delivery times across areas of the USA using unmanned aerial vehicles. Amazon, seemingly undeterred by hurdles put in place by the Federal Aviation Administration, remains steadfast in its promise to provide such a service “soon”.
One of Amazon’s latest ideas is set out in another recently published US patent application relating to on-demand manufacture of three-dimensional (3D) products. The published patent application sets out methods and systems to enable on-demand 3D printing of items and selection of the appropriate delivery method in response to a customer order. Although the proposal might be a little more grounded compared to some of Amazon’s more ambitious ideas, it seems that the internet giant could not resist an excursion into the realm of the more adventurous with a suggestion of a “mobile 3D manufacturing apparatus” that would manufacture the ordered items while en-route to the delivery destination (see paragraph 0094 of the published US patent application).
It is difficult to tell whether some of Amazon’s ideas are born out of a genuine belief that they may change the way in which we order and receive goods online, or whether they are just fanciful imaginings thrown into the public domain for the sake of publicity. However, if one thing is clear from Amazon’s published US patent application relating to on-demand 3D printing, it is that the global retailer certainly has a sense of humour; the examples at paragraph 0101 of the patent application do not mention a customer name but do refer to a delivery address at 742 Evergreen Terrace, the address of a certain animated family with an overly yellow complexion.
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