Amazon envisions delivery vans that 3D print our stuff on-the-go

First drone delivery, now 3D printing. Soon we’ll see robots in the driver's seat...

We all know how frustrating it is when a parcel arrives late. Amazon understands, and wants to start 3D printing goods in its delivery vans to save time.

Amazon turns to tech once again. After announcing its Amazon Prime Air delivery drone, the retail giant now plans to use 3D printing.

Several patents picked up by The Wall Street Journal detail new delivery vans that are equipped with 3D printers, enabling them to print the goods en route to customers.

Referred to as "mobile manufacturing hubs" by Amazon in the patents, the innovative method would vastly reduce shipping times by actually making the products during the delivery.

“Time delays between receiving an order and shipping the item to the customer may reduce customer satisfaction and affect revenues generated,” explained Amazon in the applications.

As well as being a great time-saving service, 3D printing would also save space in Amazon Warehouses as the company wouldn't actually need to stock printable items.

“Accordingly,an electronic marketplace may find it desirable to decrease the amount of warehouse or inventory storage space needed, to reduce the amount of time consumed between receiving an order and delivering the item to the customer, or both.”

While all this 3D printing talk sounds neat, it's still very early days. Amazon is yet to be granted the patents and may not even go ahead with the concept.

Nathan George

Nathan George is a freelance journalist who has contributed to in the fields of gaming, social media, streaming services, autonomous vehicles, phones, virtual reality headsets, wireless speakers and future tech. He studied journalism at the University of the West of England and is a holder of the Bronze and Silver The Duke of Edinburgh Award.