Mattel’s New 3D Printer Lets
Kids Parents Make Their Own Toys, and It’s the Coolest Thing Ever
Man, the future is so cool! Back when I was a kid I used to imagine my own toys, and sometimes I’d try to make them with clay or wood or bits of Kleenex taped together. But the crazy little cyborgs we’re raising will actually get to flex their engineering skills by making their own toys with an actual, working 3D printer.
According to TechCrunch, Mattel’s new “ThingMaker” is a $300 3D printer, and it looks like an EZ-Bake Oven version of a 3D printer. It works with an iOS or Android app to let people make custom figures, jewelry, and …well, things.
The app reportedly comes pre-loaded with basic blueprints to build a series pre-generated figures like scorpions, skeletons, dinosaurs, rings, etc. The built-in plans print things with standardized ball-and-socket joints, and kids will be able to customize stuff with designs of their own, and I suspect it will be no time before they can get blueprints from other users and print other people’s designs for themselves.
As USA Today points out, the fact that ThingMaker is a Mattel product means that kids will probably someday also be able to print up accessories for other Mattel products, like Barbie and Hot Wheels accessories. The thing will use standard 3D printing filament.
That’s all pretty cool, but honestly this is the coolest because of its customization capacity. The educational benefits of something like this seem virtually limitless. Will this teach kids to be tiny little Mark Zuckerbergs? I don’t know, but with Minecraft teaching them all to code and this thing teaching them about design and engineering, it certainly couldn’t hurt.
It’s designed for kids 13 and up, but let’s be honest, I’m going to buy it for myself. The app is already available to download and practice designing things, and the ThingMakers themselves are available for preorder on Amazon and expected to ship in the fall.