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3D Printing Toys

Many column inches have been written about 3D printing and the world has seen many examples of this technology’s amazing capabilities. As the price of machines gets lower and lower with every technological step forward, the days of 3D printing your own toys at home are closer to becoming a reality.

The imagination can run wild with the possibilities. A certain amount of design and computer programming knowledge are required however before you can just print a new arm for your Barbie doll - or create a special LEGO brick to complete a model. Interesting patent and copyright questions are still to be asked about the latter, much like those faced by the ripping of music at the turn of the century.

Cost is a key factor in 3D printing although wealthy individuals can already create amazing products such as the rocket ship playset pictured which was printed on a machine costing [only] £500. The toy industry is having to act fast to keep up with the opportunities offered by this technology. Companies may eventually offer software to home print a copy of your own Rubik’s Cube, Star Wars figure, James Bond Aston Martin model or even optional Monopoly tokens.

When the day of 3D printing toys at home arrives it will be the equivalent of the industrial revolution. Programmers and designers join forces to create software and printers that act seamlessly together to produce high quality finished products. When manufacturing, labour, packaging and transport costs are removed from the equation the price of a home printer will seem more of a bargai.

In early 2016, giant toy company Hasbro filed a US patent application for a rotating base station with a blue screen background on which a child could place a toy for scanning. Users simply attach a mobile phone with 3D scanning software to the special holder and then rotate the base through 360 degrees. The resulting image can then be transmitted to a 3D printer for processing. Whilst no name has beeen given for this product, Hasbro continues to develop new ideas to embrace this fast moving technology.

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