Mattel unveiled the ThingMaker back in the 1960s in New York. It was a crude gadget that enabled kids to create bug-like Creepy Crawlers, flowers, mini-dragons and many small toys by using plastic onto special molds that was then heated up and cooled down. Now, in 2016, Mattel has rebooted the ThingMaker as a bold statement regarding the company stepping into the 3D printing. Now this product will allow kids and adults alike to design and 3D print toys at home.
Mattel plans on rebooting ThingMaker at a price tag of $299.99. It is a family friendly 21st Century 3D printer. Announcements have been made regarding this gadget before Toy Fair Trade Show that will take off this weekend. The gadget works with a 3D printing app that is compatible with Android and iOS and works in collaboration with Autodesk.
At the unveiling of the gadget, it was surrounded by a number of items you can print using ThingMaker and included toy fairies, dinosaurs, robots, dolls, jewelry and skeletons. Users can also design objects using the ThingMaker app that comes equipped with templates and a pallete that features drag and drop parts that the user can assemble together on screen before hitting the print button. The parts are printed in batches and for safety purposes the printer’s door gets locked automatically when printing starts.
Dan Pressman, creative director at Autodesk and says, “All the physical behaviors are as it would be when it was actually printed out, so you can get an idea for how it is going to mechanically move and what the limits of all the joints and sockets that you create are.” User can select colors for the objects via app as well.
The app is live now and can be employed for the use of designing items that can be 3D printed using standard 3D printers but Mattel’s own 3D printer will come out in the fall. You can, however, pre-order it on Amazon starting today.
Aslan Appleman, a senior director at Mattel says, “We’re going to use these seven months to really learn and gain analytics of how people are using it.” 3D printers have been a bit slow when it comes to becoming the popular in home and the ones that are actually available for users cost a lot and are slow while being complicated. Mattel is targeting it as a toymaker but the company is aiming to tout its 3D printer as a consumer electronics. The printer is, in fact, designed for people with ages 13 and up.
Mattel has been observing how 3D printing is progressing for quite some time now. Appleman says, “We think this is the perfect time for us to come out in the market with a product that’s disruptive in our opinion.”
The Mattel ThingMaker will make use of standard PLA (Polylactic Acid) filament similar to other 3D printers. Appleman further says, “Our thought is we want to make this open to makers. What we want to highlight is the ThinkMaker ecosystem.”
The 3D printing itself won’t be a quick process, in fact, a small ring might take about 30 minutes for printing while a large toy might take up 6-8 hours. The important thing is the fact that companies are finally realizing the benefits of 3D printing and incorporating it. Go 3D printing!