15 Feb Mattel Unveils ThingMaker, A $300 3D Printer That Lets Kids Make Their Own Toys
At New York’s Toy Fair trade show over the weekend, Mattel unveiled its new, $300 3D Printer, the “ThingMaker,” which will allow children to print their own toys at home. The device works in conjunction with a 3D printing app developed in collaboration with Autodesk that offers a simple interface for designing items that can then come to life via Mattel’s ThingMaker as well as with other standard 3D printers already on the market.
The accompanying app is actually key to making Mattel’s 3D printing experience more accessible to a wider audience.
While there are affordably priced 3D printers available today, the software that works with them can sometimes have a learning curve that can hinder adoption. With the new application, live now on iOS and Android, the goal was to make it easy enough for anyone to design their own toys – even younger children.
Autodesk was tasked with building this app which early testers, including those at Toyland, have already described as “fast,” “easy to navigate” and “ridiculously intuitive.”
Called ThingMaker Design, the app includes a variety of built-in character templates and easy-to-use tutorials that help novices get started. But it also allows for designing characters from scratch, once kids get the hang of things. The toys can be customized with different colors and textures, and will bend and twist in the app so you can get a feel for how they’ll work after they’ve been printed. The creations can be saved as images to the mobile device’s Camera Roll, or uploaded to Google Drive or Dropbox.
When a design is complete, the app lets you export the STL print files wirelessly to your at-home printer, whether Mattel’s or otherwise.
The idea isn’t just to print an object and be done, however – instead, kids will print parts that can be assembled to form larger creations, like dolls, robots, dinosaurs, scorpions, skeletons, bracelets or necklaces, for example.