cube1More and more often we see efforts to teach children coding at a young age by virtue of introducing fun programming languages to them. Part of this development is the far reach that the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) initiative is having on K-12 curricula. Parents and educators want children ready for a technologically driven economy, and this means introducing these concepts to them at younger and younger ages. One excellent example of this development is the not yet released Cubetto Playset from Primo Toys. This looks like a fun toy — blending both wood, electronics, and brightly colored plastic pieces — but it aspires to much more.

This “friendly wooden robot, powered by a playful programming language you can touch” will be available this October, but it’s already getting much attention partly due to a successful March 2016 Kickstarter campaign that brought the company 651 backers. As for the 3D printing world, it is significant because Primo Toys collaborated with Materialise on the design and 3D printing of its first 650 playsets.

cube6This playset, comprised of natural wood and electronics, helps children learn programming logic without having to read. The Cubetto Playset has a programming interface, a set of instruction blocks and a board along with friendly Cubetto — the robot. For the first run of playsets, Primo Toys went with 3D printing for the eleven parts that make up the components and programming blocks used to construct the Cubetto robot. In the process, the company realized that if something is designed specifically for 3D printing, then it will be easier to print. The first 100 sets presented some challenges to Primo’s design team, and so they consulted Materialise’s own Design and Engineering team, which sought to both improve the product’s assembly time and reduce cost.

According to a recent Materialise blog post about this collaboration, many improvements were introduced due to 3D printing’s general design freedom:

“The programming blocks were redesigned with a ‘click-fit’ mechanism that worked to the performance capabilities of the material and removed the need for an additional tool to connect the parts,” Materialise’s Natalie Simpson explained. “With this Primo experienced a reduction in the amount of waste material, and most importantly saw a reduction in assembly time. In addition the battery lid was redesigned with an integrated opening and closing mechanism that removed the need for a separate key.”

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Also, Materialise reports that the Cubetto chassis (vehicle frame) received a serious overhaul. A new click feature no longer requires a screw, the introduction of simple bosses removed the need for nuts, and a new mounting method for the circuit board improved the assembly time and saved money on screws.

How much time and money was saved using 3D design, engineering, and printing by Materialise? The re-engineered product decreased production time by 20% and saved Primo 25% in overall costs. Materialise put together a case study illustrating these savings:

Given the successful redesign and printing of Cubetto, this playset is getting that much closer to mass-distribution, which is great news for educators, parents, and the children who will be the fortunate recipients of that first run of Cubetto. Discuss this story further over in the Materialise Helps Cubetto with 3D Printing forum over at 3DPB.com.

If you like the idea, check out a video of Cubetto below!

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