More important than the size of an e-commerce company’s product offerings or its prices is how quickly it can deliver those products to customers and for how much. Amazon has always led the market in this regard and wants to maintain that lead with whatever system or technology proves most effective. Bike messengers and drones have been some of its more recent ideas but Amazon may be turning to something even more offbeat: 3D printing trucks.
Amazon is constantly working on ways to put the goods you purchase online in your hands faster. They’re toying with drones, enlisting the aid of bike messengers, and even pondering a fleet of delivery trucks that double as mobile 3D printers. That’s the plan they set out in a patent application that surfaced recently. The flow is logical enough. First, a customer places an order which Amazon authorizes. Rather than handing it off to a worker (or robot) in a warehouse, though, it’s forwarded to the mobile manufacturing unit that’s located closest to the customer. It’s produced en route and delivered when complete. The patent application mentions both additive and subtractive manufacturing, so it’s not just about 3D printing. Their next-gen delivery trucks could also feature onboard CNC equipment to machine metal and other materials.