It's been the province of experimental designers like Bathsheba Grossman and Virtox for quite some time now, but as a major mainstream retailer now is testing the consumer appeal of 3D printed on demand jewelry, you can call it a watershed moment for additive manufacturing.
This week, retail and brand giant Neiman Marcus added a pair of 3D-printed products to their online catalog.
The $295 necklace (which features a customizable heart pendant by Roger Pearce) and a delicate, stainless steel desk sculpture by Grossman (priced at $395), are just the first in what is surely a series of JIT products to be marketed with the power of major retail branding outfits.
What makes this so special?
Neiman Marcus won't house the products physically at any point of the sales and fulfillment process. When customers place their order, the objects will be 3D printed and shipped directly from Shapeways.
The next-generation factory in Long Island City, New York, has already been in essentially the same business that Neiman Marcus is entering with their initiative, but it's the brand power that makes this a historical event.
It's basically the work of Gerard Barnes, Chief Merchant for Neiman Marcus Direct. Barnes said he likes the Shapeways partnership as it allows his firm to offer products which are "cutting edge, yet fashionable."
Barnes says the "on demand" factor of 3D-printed products is appealing as it prevents Neiman Marcus from the need to take on the risks involved in purchasing and storing inventory.
He added that customers of the first two pilot products are guaranteed to receive their orders within three weeks, and that products are only made once they've been ordered.