While we've all been waiting patiently for Amazon Prime Air to touch down, the company's been prepping 3D printing on the go

Amazon Technologies, Inc. recently submitted patent documents for new technology that would allow customer orders to kick off an automated process designed to 3D print and deliver their ordered products. Using pre-packaged digital instructions for printing each item, Amazon’s proposed system could manufacture a product upon request—even by using 3D printers inside a delivery truck—and get the (possibly still warm) item into a customer’s hands within hours.

The patent application points out that, in this “modern age of e-commerce, many items are bought or sold electronically,” and that the burden of stocking a “multiplicity of items—as Amazon famously does—can require sellers to maintain enormous facilities. Their potential move toward freshly printing a range of products on demand, then, stands to “decrease the amount of warehouse or inventory storage space needed” to maintain items, to reduce the time it takes for current systems to locate items requested in an order, “or both.”

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