Last April, 3DPrint.com reported that China intends to install at least one 3D printer in each of its 400,000 elementary schools. There are several companies ready to take advantage of this opportunity for 3D printing in education, not only in Asia. One of the better positioned could be Weistek, which is about to launch its STEM-ready, kid-friendly MiniToy 3D printer on Kickstarter, at a price as low as $249.
Founded in May 2011 in Shenzhen, Weistek Co is a leading researcher and manufacturer of consumer (desktop) 3D printers, 3D printing filament and software. The company has a R&D team of 20 engineers, which owns 2 approved patents in China and 10 others which are pending. Most of the production takes plane in a 4.000 square meter facility located at the International Low Carbon City of Shenzhen, built in 2013 in order to meet the expanding needs of the market.
A 3D Printing Curriculum
Building on the experience of its IdeaWerk 3D printer, Weistek is launching the MiniToy’s crowd-funding campaign on May 10, aiming to become the world’s first truly kid-friendly and education-ready 3D printer. In doing so, the company is trying to break into a segment – that of 3D printing for kids – that many have tried to enter before, but have generally failed to produce the ideal product so far.
In order to best its predecessors, Weistek is offering an ultra-low price point of $249 (with a $200 discount off the regular price, available to those who sign up for the pre-Kickstarter newsletter) and designed the MiniToy with all mechanical and heated parts hidden away, to prevent accidental burns or injuries.
Full STEAM Ahead for Innovation in China
Even more importantly, the MiniToy comes with a series of increased accessibility options such as the MiniToy’s mobile app. The custom software hosts an array of hands-on activities categorized into Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) subjects, making it easy for teachers to provide more interactive content to their lessons.
These features earned the MiniToy the recognition of the electronics industry and placed it among “The Most Promising Electronic Gadgets” at the recent 2016 Global Sources Electronics Show, which closed on April 30 in Hong Kong. The products which received the award were selected as those that best represent the shift of China from the world’s factory to a hub for innovation, a shift that necessarily begins in the classroom.
Before the Kickstarter campaign officially launches, teachers can enter to win a free MiniToy through the “Teachers LOVE MiniToy” contest, which runs from May 1 to May 21. To enter, go to the MiniToy website and register for their newsletter, then head over the MiniToy Facebook page to post your video response to the prompt: “If you had a 3D printer in your classroom, tell us how you would use it to teach a simple or complex concept.” Videos should be no more than two minutes long, and should include your name, location, the subject you teach, and the ages of your students. Multiple submissions are allowed, and winners will be announced on May 24.