More companies are hopping on board the 3D printing express every day. Microsoft will be offering additive manufacturing (AM) support with Windows 8.1, Staples has already begun to roll out its print centers, and consumer goods giant Tesco is investigating how it might commercialize the technology. Now eBay is getting into the act with a new app for iOS devices called Exact.
Exact allows users to browse different categories of 3D printed goods, select an item they like, and then customize that item for printing. Currently, the app supports products from MakerBot, Sculpteo and Hot Pop Factory. While eBay already offered a number of 3D printed goods on its site, finding them could prove difficult, leading to the creation of the app.
“Shoppers today not only want to buy items anytime, anywhere through mobile devices, but they also want to be able to personalize their purchases. eBay Exact brings these two desires into one shopping experience,” says Steve Yankovich, vice president of Innovation and New Ventures for eBay.
Although the number of goods is relatively small for the time being, unless eBay has entirely missed its mark, the quantity of 3D printed products should rise along with demand. Companies such as Shapeways have proved the model works, and eBay has the volume of customers necessary for the investment to pay off.
While this is generally good news for raising awareness about 3D printing, part of me wonders if the internet will eventually be glutted with AM goods. How many Shapeways, Materialises, and so on can the on-demand industry support? If 3D printers do become more available on a personal level, whether in homes or at the nearest copy center, the 3D printed bubble could easily burst. Why pay shipping for a 3D printed item when you can produce one in the garage or around the corner?
Below you’ll find a short video about the products offered by Hot Pop Factory.