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Mattel Reboots Thingmaker with 3D Printing Technology


Mattel had previously launched Thingmaker back in the 1960s when 3D Printing was still several decades away. The toymaker has now kicked off New York Toy Fair embracing 3D printing technology for rebooting Thingmaker.

ThingMaker 3D printer, is a fantastic DIY system that allows kids and even their parents to print many things including a variety of action figures, different types of jewelry, and wearables at home.

Manufacturing a Manufacturing Device

Mattel embraces a process that is innovative, using 3D printing and other computerized machines using layers for creating multiple three-dimensional objects. Mattel and rival companies are trying to create fast prototypes of toys giving more consumers ample customization options. But if this trend comes up to high levels, people will get to make their own toys and figures right at home.

Mattel has constructed the ThingMaker 3D printer smartly partnering with Autodesk for a compatible app that can send commands to the printer. The app is available on iOS and Android and not only compatible with Mattel-made printer but with other 3D printers too.

The thought process for the toymaker was to reinvent their old toy vault to resurrect a known brand particularly for the digital age. ThingMaker had first debuted as a system to develop Creepy Crawlers in 1960. And they were functional for playing too.

The Revamped Thingmaker

The app has blue prints for users to construct their toys and keeps in view the kids’ expectations. Mattel mentions that it would take about 10 hours for toys to be fully printed.

The 3D printing avenue presents new opportunities for bringing out new ways to play. Now families can transcend the digital world for realizing ideas in the truest sense. Many toys created from the device can help push boundaries of imaginative play.

In 1960, the device used liquid plastic to be put into metal molds. Mattel now uses 3D printing for creating new toys, especially to design new figurines. Each of the created designs in the app can be sent directly to the printer. With basic blueprints for creation including rings, necklaces, scorpions, dinosaurs, and the like, users can print new sections that can click into ball-and-socket joints efficiently.

Meant for Teens and Adolescents

The printer is meant for kids who are aged 13 and more and includes some safety measures for 3D printing. The device has several doors that lock automatically and the printing head retracts when it is not in working condition. Also one has to take care of small kids from heating PLA plastic filament although the makers say that any standard filament can be used. The colours available and the pricing of each of the spools are not declared yet but the company is geared to offer several avatars of layers with average 1 kg spool of plastic. One could create 20 figurines, and nearly 30 pieces of different jewelry and even 100 rings from about the same matter.

The App and the ThingMaker for You!

The printer’s app is now available for iOS and Android, while the printer is available on preorder basis for around $299. Shipping is scheduled for fall season. The ThingMaker looks like a winner with a 3D printer at a smart price, but Mattel is now pitching it for creating several other toys. Replicating other iconic brands and toys is part of the longer term strategy for the makers. Although it does take time for printing large 3D objects, it is bound to arouse curiosity for kids and even help with their imagination. It is easy for creating them and keep it for printing overnight.

Rajiv Patil
Rajiv is one of the founders of Nimblechapps, a web and mobile development company based out of India. At Nimblechapps he overlooks delivery, product development and often lends a hand to the in house development team. His personal interest include Travel, Food and Motorcycling.