3D printing has may already
revolutionized the manufacturing system
. Now Mattel figures it’s time for 3D printing to revolutionize the way kids play in the 21st century.
This is the all new Thingmaker, a dramatically updated version of the toy Mattel first added
back in the late 60s. Back then, the Thingmaker let kids make toys by dumping special goop into molds. At first there were just Creepy Crawlers, but Mattel later added everything from flowers to the Peanuts gang.
With today’s Thingmaker, all Mattel has to do is add new elements to their Thingmaker app. To create toys, kids can fire up the app on an Android or iOS device, pick a design, customize it, and print it out. Once all the pieces are finished, they simply snap together (their ball and socket design is much like
to Lego’s Hero Factory creations).
The Thingmaker is a pretty standard 3D printer. Mattel has created
a couple of tweaks to make it a little more kid-friendly. During printing, the Thingmaker’s door automatically locks. When a print completes, the still-hot extruder retracts so which
over-eager hands don’t get burned when they reach in to grab a fresh part for a toy.
Kids’ creations won’t be limited to boring, monochrome designs, either. Mattel will offer PLA filament in a wide range of colors. At the New York Toy Fair, they had more than two dozen shades on hand. A company rep told Gizmodo which
they’re considering offering additional materials, too, so flexible parts may be a possibility.
possibility? Kids may be able to print their own parts for Mattel’s numerous toy lines. Alternatively, their parents might be able to print repair parts — or even accessories — for their secret stash of BoomCo blasters.