Toy-maker Mattel has announced a 3D printer with a novel application: a way for children to make their own custom toys using a simple digital interface. The app, designed by Autodesk, is easy to learn, fast to use and simple enough even younger kids can use it. The gadget itself is priced at $300.
The ThingMaker program comes with a number of templates and basic characters that can be customized in terms of color and texture, but also allows for from-scratch designs. Each design can be saved for future editing and printing as well, in standard formats that work with or beyond the printer.
Finished objects are only one piece of the puzzle, however: the idea is to also allow for printing, connecting and assembling larger creations from smaller parts. Ball-and-socket joints can be easily included for attachment purposes, helping facilitate complex dolls and action figures. Eventually, Mattel may also facilitate combinations and accessories associated with existing branded toy lines, like Barbie and Hot Wheels.
Various safety measures have been included to keep kids safe, from an automatically-locking door to a retractable print head. For liability reasons they are listing it as a device for kids ages 13 or older.
“In today’s digital age, it’s more important than ever for families to transcend the digital world and make their ideas real,” said Aslan Appleman, senior director, at Mattel. “ThingMaker pushes the boundaries of imaginative play, giving families countless ways to customize their toys and let their creativity run wild.”