UK retail chain Argos is seeking to fight off competition from Amazon by bringing 3D printing to consumers with a customisable 3D-printed jewellery service.
On the Argos Customised Jewellery site, customers select what they want to print from rings, bracelets, cufflinks, pendants and earrings.
They can choose from 18 carat silver or gold-plated metal, the size of the item and the design, then customise it with engraved, names, words or phrases.
The prices for this service ranges from £50 to £220 but the catch is that customers cannot try on the product before they purchase it and Argos is not allowing any exchanges, order cancellations or refunds, except if there is something wrong with the item.
So while 3D-printed jewellery with custom engraving might sound like a great, unique, engagement ring idea, for example, it would work out to be costly if the ring does not fit.
Also, while 3D printing is meant to revolutionise manufacturing by making it possible to produce products much faster, Argos says it will take 21 days for the 3D-printed jewellery to be ready, so some pre-planning will be required.
"There has been a lot of excitement about 3D printing and we are just beginning to explore the mainstream application of these techniques," Neil Tinegate, Argos' digital innovation chief, said.
"We are launching the site this week with our partners in the consortium as a trial, to gauge how customers want to engage with it. We will assess results and learnings to inform future decision making in due course."
Argos is working on the 3D-printed jewellery line in collaboration with additive manufacturing partners Digital Forming, EOS and Assa Ashuach Studio. It is hoped R&D knowledge gained from the trial will enable it to be developed into a full commercial offering.
The retail chain is also hoping to expand into 3D printing in other areas of its business, such as lighting and homeware in the future - a direction Amazon is already looking into with its patent filing in the US for delivery trucks that can print out common household items on the go.