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kidcar9The future of 3D printing lies in the hands of our youth. It will be today’s school-aged children who grow up understanding the concepts behind 3D modeling and 3D printing better than most of us who are currently employed in the workforce. Hopefully with 3D printing curricula in schools, and a growing understanding that the technology holds tremendous potential, our children will be the ones to really reap the rewards of the technology. It will be these same children who will be working for the companies that do for 3D printing what the Googles, Apples, and IBMs did for personal computing.

In Japan, 3D printing is beginning to really take off. One company, called t-o-f-u design, understands the importance of teaching children about this technology. In collaboration with Inter-Culture, at the 2014 Maker Faire in Tokyo, t-o-f-u decided to try something very unique, when it comes to 3D printing. They allowed 11 children, between the ages of 4 and 8 years old, to design a side view of a car that they would like to have fabricated on a 3D printer. They were merely asked to draw a profile of a vehicle from one side, and then t-o-f-u and company were to do the rest.

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t-o-f-u is a company consisting of just two individuals, Sam Park and Mitsuki.

“We are actually full time car designers [for a] major Japanese car company,” Park tells 3DPrint.com. “We created this design unit to create fun and meaningful educational workshops for kids and also to do more collaboration projects with other creative talents. It is part of our learning experience as well.”

Using Autodesk Alias, t-o-f-u was able to create digital 3D models of the kids’ cars. They then had INTER-CULTURE 3D print the designs using a 3D Systems Sinterstation HiQ. Once the cars were 3D printed, the kids were then asked to color them using special markers.

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The end result? 11 separate 3D printed cars that featured moving wheels, and an individuality about them only possible via 3D printing. The cars, which were exhibited at the Tokyo Maker Faire, garnered quite the attention from show attendees.

kidcar7The children were also able to push their cars around a track to see just how fast they could go.

“Since we made only a one course race track, we could not race them, but all the cars drive perfectly,” explained Park. “So we had [the kids] drive them one by one, and they were super excited to see their own designed cars moving!”

Now with this project complete, t-o-f-u is looking toward future projects, including collaboration with other large 3D printing companies. Park tells us that they are in talks with Materialise Japan, and they are in the process of working on another kids design workshop that will take place in the middle of January.

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What do you think about this unique way of using 3D printing to get kids involved with and excited about the technology? Discuss in the 3D printed kids cars forum thread on 3DPB.com.  Check out the video and additional photos below.

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