The toy industry may be about to see a major shift, as 3D printing begins inching its way into the manufacturing process. With a promise of customization, and the ability for children to design their own toys, 3D printing could be a gamer changer.
Back in November we broke the news that Toys’R’Us had teamed with Pittsburgh-based start-up PieceMaker Technologies to bring 3D toy printing kiosks to two stores as a part of a pilot program. The kiosks, which allowed children and parents to create their own toy on a computer screen and then have it 3D printed in about 20 minutes, certainly seemed like an idea that would appeal to most children.
“We had a fantastic Day 1 at Toy Fair. I found a ton of great ideas and toys this year. I think my favorite quote from a buyer is ‘PieceMaker is the only thing I’ve seen at Toy Fair that really excites me!'” stated Pam Israel, Director of Marketing for PieceMaker.
The first upgrade is quite significant. The new 3D Printing Stations are now completely unified, meaning that the printers (there will be 2 automated printers within each kiosk) are integrated within the kiosk itself. In the prior version, customers would need to pick their toy up at a separate location within the store. By unifying the system, a more fulfilling experience can be enjoyed by users as they design and then watch as their object is printed out in the same location.
Additionally, payment for a product can be made at the kiosk itself, rather than requiring the customer to pay up front at a cash register. This means customers receive their merchandise faster, and less time is consumed by employees, ultimately saving the store money.
Lastly, this update includes an enhanced display showing off some of the many products that can be designed and fabricated within minutes right in front of the child’s eyes. Children will be able to view and play with sample toys and decide just what they want the 3D printing station to create for them.
Toys range in price from between $4.99 and $12.99 a piece and will take between 5 minutes and 25 minutes to print out. The kiosks themselves are very easy to use, allowing the average 8-year-old to operate it without any parental guidance. The new kiosks will be available for pre-order starting in July of this year, and would be perfect for toy stores, indoor malls, amusement parks, tween fashion retailers, and more.
Have you tried one of these 3D toy printing kiosks out? What did you think? Let us know in the PieceMaker 3D printing Station forum thread on 3DPB.com.