Launching a new product on popular crowdfunding site Kickstarter, especially one as high-tech as a 3D printer, can be a risky move. Entrepreneurs and startups put a lot on the line when trying to develop and sell complex devices like 3D printers, but the customers who shell out money for expensive rewards take on a lot of risk as well. As a rule, 3DPrint.com isn’t covering any more Kickstarter campaigns for 3D printers. But, when the product being funded is a low-risk 3D printed toy that only costs a few dollars, we make an exception.
“My kickstarter project is about Verso – a durable, biodegradable spinning top that is 3D Printed from PLA made in the USA,” engineer and designer Ethan Kirkley, the Founder of Kirkley Toys, told 3DPrint.com. “I designed this top from scratch to be able to spin right side up and upside down, as well as on a variety of surfaces. It is a great, modern take on one of the oldest toys.”
Kirkley Toys 3D prints affordable, simple toys for kids of all ages, and its first product is a classic spin top called Verso, which is now on Kickstarter. According to a 2017 Michigan Tech study, the overall US toy and games market is forecast to reach $135 billion by the year 2020, and 3D printing is definitely a viable option for manufacturing toys. Consumers could one day visit stores to interact with, create, and 3D print customized toys, or make them at home; you can even use 3D printing to modify existing toys.
We asked Kirkley why he chose to start a company for 3D printed toys.
“3D printing toys allows it to be far reaching. Theoretically someone halfway around the world could use the STL files to print their own toys designed by Kirkley Toys,” Kirkley told us. “3D printing allows for a low cost but still durable manufacturing method for toys. My hope is that it could form a community of toy enthusiasts or designers, and work together to make fun, simple toys.”
Speaking of fun and simple, the Verso was designed from scratch specifically to be made from biodegradable PLA plastic. Kirkley went through a few iterations that weren’t working, due to issues like being unattractive, suffering from improper balance, or having a short spin time. But the design he ended up with fixes all of these problems.
From top to bottom, the 0.36 oz Verso is 1.95 inches high, and measures 1.57 inches across. The 3D printed top can be made in a veritable rainbow of colors – including the recently announced marble – and even comes in two-tone, like the version below, without any post-processing required.
“Verso is composed of a top, a bottom and a plug. The plug acts as a press fit to hold the top and bottom parts together,” Kirkley explained on Kickstarter. “After working on a few different press fit designs, I’ve found that an octagonal shape into a round hole to be the most ideal. The parts are 3D printed individually, and then press fitted together.”
However, while Kirkley is definitely a fan of 3D printing, that’s not his long-term goal for the Verso, as he said it’s “not the most efficient,” though he notes that it’s been very helpful in terms of prototyping.
“I have a long-term goal of using injection molding once volumes permit, as it would allow for quicker build times,” Kirkley wrote. “For the time being however, 3D printing is the most cost effective and versatile route.”
With a little over 20 days left in the campaign, the Verso is getting closer to the halfway point of its initial financial goal. There are plenty of early bird rewards left: for just $2, you will receive one 3D printed Verso spin top in the color of your choice in time for Christmas! This would be the perfect stocking stuffer for the little ones.
A $4 early bird pledge will get you two Verso tops and a $6 early bird pledge will get you three; however, these aren’t scheduled to arrive until January. However, there is a chance you could receive them in December.
“The estimated delivery dates are based on my production capabilities with a single 3D Printer,” Kirkley explained. “So, if Verso is successfully funded, these dates will effectively be cut in half with the addition of a second 3D printer, and rewards can be delivered twice as fast!”
The ultimate $60 Verso Enthusiast pledge, with delivery scheduled for February 2019, will not only get you ten 3D printed Verso tops, but you’ll also receive the STL files for the toy’s top, bottom, and plug so you can 3D print your own at home.
To see a video about the 3D printed Verso, learn more about the risks and challenges behind the campaign, and find out what Kirkley has planned for his budget should the product be funded, visit the Verso Kickstarter page.
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