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autodesk-mattel3D printing and toys go together hand in hand, and we’ve reported on countless toy makers and innovators able to break into the business due to the affordability and independence allowed with 3D printing technology—when otherwise it would have been an impossibility due to manufacturing dynamics and economics.

With the ease of digital design which allows for nearly infinite creativity as well as quick editing, and the prototyping and affordability of 3D printing itself, it’s an attractive proposition all around for creating more fun in this serious, busy world. And while the fun and games commence with a new technology and many artists and startups entering the marketplace of selling toys, you can bet that the big guns are taking notice as well—and they are just as concerned with embracing transformation, innovation, and a better bottom line.

In quite the power matchup between technological and toy giants Autodesk and Mattel, a partnership has been created not just to present their customer base with recreation, but to put the power of making and 3D printing right into their hands, offering a unique experience which allows kids—and parents—to have fun and also to explore the design and science involved in both the digital and 3D printing aspects.

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Mattel currently uses 3D printing in production of ready-made items like Hot Wheels.

Combining traditional toys with the 3D design and 3D printing, kids and families will be offered the opportunity to use apps that give them the impetus for conceptualizing and making toys customized to their own ideas for play.

The combination of play and education is deliberate on the parts of both Autodesk and Mattel as they introduce the younger set to the skills and tools needed to enter the innovative world of the making community.

“Autodesk is dedicated to providing powerful, yet easy-to-use 3D design and 3D printing apps to unlock the creativity in everyone,” said Samir Hanna, vice president and general manager, Consumer and 3D Printing, Autodesk. “Partnering with an iconic brand like Mattel provides us with an opportunity to demonstrate how Spark, our open 3D printing platform, can help create amazing experiences that bridge the digital and physical worlds and push the boundaries of creative play.”

With the vision to “create the future of play,” Mattel is undoubtedly hitting the new sweet spot customers crave, and also allowing users the opportunity to work with technology they are currently mastering or are curious about. Mattel, one of the large-scale manufacturers that actually uses 3D printing for large-scale production of items like Barbies and Hot Wheels, is switching gears in offering ideas and information regarding the technology to its customer base.

Parents are much more inclined to purchase and get involved with educational toys that really set kids up for independent creating. With 3D printing, they learn how to customize and, ultimately, manufacture.mattel

“We’re constantly inspired by the passion and creativity we see among kids around the world,” said Doug Wadleigh, senior vice president and global brand general manager, Toy Box, Mattel. “Technology is changing daily and by harnessing Mattel’s expertise in play and Autodesk’s expertise with creative apps and 3D printing, we’re able to offer a new kind of 3D design experience, continuing the Mattel legacy of inspiring imagination and creativity.”

While the world of child’s play is already one of infinite creation just due to the imagination, coupling it with today’s powerful software and hardware in 3D will lend an entirely new transformation in the world of toys. These apps, scheduled to launch in the second half of 2015, should act as a launching pad for kids to be able to take the reins far beyond the limits of just thinking about what would be cool—and actually showing us with their unique 3D models.

Customers using the new Mattel apps will not be required to own home 3D printers as they have the option of sending designs out for 3D printing.

Mattel will also be offering an online hub dedicated to their 3D printing market and concepts. The partnership should work to highlight and push Autodesk’s Spark platform further into the limelight, especially as they have a specific target with the education sector. Also being marketed with Autodesk’s Ember 3D printer, Spark is a platform that works with APIs and cloud services for better optimization of 3D models.

Have you been taking note of some of the other toy giants getting in on the 3D printing market share? Would the new Mattel apps be something you are interested in looking into? Share your thoughts with us in the Mattel and Autodesk Bring 3D Printing to Kids forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

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Autodesk’s Ember 3D printer, being marketed with the Spark platform





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