Often it’s the relaxing little side project that wasn’t meant to be anything other than an experimental one-off that turns into quite the surprising hit. That would be the case with SpotiBear, a 3D printed toy by Andreas Lindahl that certainly looks to rival anything in the toy department for babies that we’ve seen.
There are several toys on the market for playing sounds and soothing babies to sleep at night or for nap time, but the musical SpotiBear has a streamlined, clean and safe look — and what could be cooler than downloading music and controlling this little bear with colorful buttons on his chest to play infinite sweet tunes? SpotiBear can also play stories, offering great entertainment for kids no matter what time of day, and maybe even adding a little downtime for pooped out moms and dads too.
Though SpotiBear may look basic enough in its finished form, one might be amazed at how much can go into designing something like this fairly simple 3D print combined with electronics. While Lindahl performed all the creative design work on SpotiBear, his co-worker Pär Johansson was responsible for writing the code and figuring out the hardware. He put SpotiBear’s internal affairs together behind the scenes with a Raspberry Pi B+, running Spotify through spopd. Johansson then used a python script to control the buttons.
Together, the two formed a schematic for both the body parts and electronics. Using Strata 3D, they were able to come up with a working design after some refining as to where to put hardware, and the use of threaded inserts for joints and a variety of pieces, connecting everything, and eventually bringing SpotiBear to life.
All of the pieces were 3D printed on a MakerBot Replicator 2, with each arm being printed in six pieces and then glued afterward. Lindahl stated that there was a great deal of sanding involved with the larger pieces — and obviously this is what lends the soft white appearance to the toy bear. After much sanding, a lot of primer, and spray paint (Tamiya spray paint and primer) for the four big pieces, Lindahl and Johansson were forced to spend some extra time refiguring the hole for the speaker, resulting in a seam around that area.
“The first layer of primer revealed a lot of imperfections, so I ended up sanding everything down again with normal, fine, and then super fine wet sanding paper,” said Lindahl. “I painted two layers of filler primer, sanding again, then two layers of primer on top of that.”
All systems were running smoothly once they inserted the hardware in the back of the bear, and even included a micro USB for charging. Wiring runs through the bear’s head, which has 90 degrees of turning ability. Using stencils and spray paint for the lettering on the controller buttons, they were glued on, and the bear was ready to make some music — after, of course, downloading the Spotify app, creating a network, and cranking out some good playlists.
While the product might be in the form of a 3D printed teddy bear now, with the ability to play any tunes you choose from Spotify, Andreas Lindahl might really be onto something. Once morphed into another more mature or different shape, this baby itself could also be a real hit with anyone who wants to put their remote controlled music into feasibly any cool and interesting shape — with teenagers using them in their rooms or out and about, energetic workers jamming out at their desks, and perhaps even something to offer as an alternative to flowers for someone bedridden in the hospital.
Not only is SpotiBear a great potential product, but it once again also demonstrates the power 3D printing has to allow individuals with a budding idea to manufacture a toy that could reach many, without the creator having to raise exorbitant amounts of capital just to break into the toy business.
Is this a 3D print you would be interested in making yourself? Tell us your thoughts in the 3D Printed SpotiBear forum thread over at 3DPB.com.