Amazon (s amzn) today opened AmazonSupply, a store dedicated to the bits and pieces associated with running a small office, building your own garage robots (or science lab) or a manufacturing facility. And yes, it will also sell centrifuges. All I could think after seeing this story was, “Just wait until Amazon gets its hands on industrial-grade 3-D printers.”
From the release:
“We’re excited to offer a wide range of items, from basic supplies like drill bits and automatic hand dryers, to hard to find parts like laboratory centrifuges and miniature polyimide tubing, enabling business and industrial customers to streamline their buying processes,” said Prentis Wilson, vice president of AmazonSupply. “Low prices combined with fast, free shipping and a vast selection, make shopping on AmazonSupply a great experience for customers.”
Many of these are uncommon, some are built to exacting standards and most of the one-off parts like drill bits seem like something that would be perfect for on-demand 3-D printing. It’s not as nutty as one might imagine. Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos has had an investment in MFG.com, a company based in Atlanta that connects folks who need parts (and have designed them) with others who can make them on demand. There is enough demand for made-to-order industrial parts that MFG.com hit $100 million in revenue in 2008 according to this story in The Atlanta Business Chronicle.
Now imagine if that demand could be fulfilled form a startup like Shapeways, instead of a machine shop in France. There is giant market of big companies that require custom-made drill bits for oil wells, replacement parts for airplanes and millions of other bits and pieces that keep the industrial world humming. I don’t doubt that Amazon has its eye on that space and AmazonSupply is one way to connect with the market that could find the most use for it — outside of printing LEGO pieces, of course.
It’s also marketed for individuals, which helps bring someone’s need for a bit of tubing for a research experiment out of the realm of the purchasing department and into the realm of the individual. For those familiar with Amazon’s cloud strategy, this should sound familiar. So while this store (and a line of credit on your Amazon card that Amazon is offering) is pretty cool for helping make DIY and running a small business even that much easier, imagine what happens when you really can just go onto Amazon’s web site and pull down whatever part you need, on-demand and from the cloud.