Amazon looks to 3D printing trucks

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Amazon looks to 3D printing trucks
Amazon's vision for trucks equipped with 3D printers

Mobile manufacturing hubs get goods to buyers faster.

Retail giant Amazon has floated the concept of equipping trucks with 3D printers to create products on demand and on location in an effort to them to customers faster.

According to patents filed this week with the US Patent and Trademark Office, first reported by3Dprint.com, Amazon is looking for a way to reduce delivery times by utilising 3D printing.

Customers could order an item from Amazon and have it delivered that same day - without Amazon needing to stock the inventory or ensure the product's availability.

In its patent filing, Amazon highlighted current challenges raised by being forced to store a large inventory, time delays resulting from locating items its warehouses, and their effect on the speed of delivery and resulting customer satisfaction rates.

By utilising mobile manufacturing hubs equipped with on-demand 3D printing, Amazon could send a unit instructions to print out a particular item while the vehicle is en route to the customer - significantly cutting down on the speed of delivery.

"The user ... may be an engineer with a virtual model of a part that he or she would like to physically manipulate or an architect with a CAD model of a building that he or she would like to convert into a physical model to provide to a client," Amazon wrote in its filing.

In recent years Amazon has focused on techniques for delivering products to consumers as fast as possible. This drive has seen the introduction of Amazon's Prime Air proposal - a drone-based delivery service that flies small parcels to consumers within 30 minutes or less.

Amazon also last year revamped its fulfilment centres, introducing Kiva robotics technology to fulfill orders.

The centres use 15,000 Kiva robots along with the Robo-Stow robotic arm to shift inventory, and new vision and graphically-oriented systems for managing inventory and processing customer orders.

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