Given the speed at which 3D printers have been improving in the past few years, I knew it was only a matter of time before 3D printed toys reached the point where they could be made on-site while customers wait at a toy store. From the look of recent events in the news, it seems two big toy manufacturers had the same idea. It seems all they were waiting for was the right combination of 3D scanning systems and simple 3D user interface.
With Mattel just announcing its own collaboration with Autodesk this week (all part of its campaign to push itself to the forefront of digital innovation), there are now two different major players in the toy industry promoting 3D printing based bespoke toy design.
Mattel’s latest news for working with Autodesk on a 3D printing and software combination for toys has a lot of people quite excited at the possibilities. According to Vice president and general manager of Consumer and 3D Printing at Autodesk Samir Hanna: “Partnering with an iconic brand like Mattel provides us with an opportunity to demonstrate how Spark, our open 3D printing platform, can help create amazing experiences that bridge the digital and physical worlds and push the boundaries of creative play.”
This follows on from Hasbro’s recent collaboration with 3D Systems to create the 3D Plus Me Service, combining mini-me with superhero figurines for bespoke superheroes. Currently this service is offered as a road-show tour visiting various cities across the United States.
This custom Marvel Superhero figurine printing service was added by Hasbro and Disney to follow on from the successful Star Wars bespoke 3D printed toy making promotion they ran earlier last year:
As the 3D scanning software becomes simpler to run and clean up, and 3D printers get faster and easier to maintain, I predict it’s only a few more years before we see permanent fixtures in department stores where 3D printing works like cross between a vending machine and a photography booth.
…Now here’s an interesting thought– how could this work with fashion or accessory design?