Back in February, Hasbro announced some pretty big news within the 3D printing space. They had teamed with 3D Systems to “co-develop and commercialize innovative play printers and platforms”. And although nothing has come from this partnership yet, it certainly showed that Hasbro was an innovator, determined to use 3D printing for their benefit, instead of letting it possibly eat into theirs profits.
For years now, there have been skeptics claiming that 3D printing will be an intellectual property disaster for companies like Hasbro, who ultimately rely on thousands of trademarks of toy characters and brands, which would easily be able to be 3D printed once technology has advanced. Today Hasbro has announced another major move, adopting 3D printing into its business model, in a way which could not only stave off the threat of 3D Printing itself, but expand their business quite a bit as well.
“Instead of trying to prohibit it, they’re enabling it, and I think that’s awesome,” said Peter Weijmarshausen, chief executive of Shapeways. “By embracing this new technology, it’s good for everybody. The end-user is happy because he or she gets what they want, and we don’t get into a fight.”
Hasbro and Shapeways will work together on a project dedicated to allowing artists and fans to manipulate trademarked designs to their own liking, and then turn around and resell them to other fans. The project which will have a home at SuperFanArt.com could really change the way in which toys are designed, as well as sold. Fans will also have an expanded role in the development of those toys.
How it works is quite simple. Hasbro will make several designs from ‘My Little Pony’ available to an initial group of artists. These artists will have full reign over how they design toys for the marketplace, as long as they are tasteful, and suited to children. Those designs will then be available for sale on the SuperFanArt website. Once an order is placed it is specifically 3D printed via Shapeways. The toys will be printed with a polymer material which has a similar consistency to sandstone.
“We have been investigating 3-D printing for quite a while, as have many people,” said John Frascotti, chief marketing officer at Hasbro. “What 3-D printing truly empowers is the creation of artwork that maybe wouldn’t make sense for mass production, but it makes sense for a unique item.”
For instance, right now there are only a handful of different characters from My Little Pony, available in toy form at the store. Hasbro plans to release, for redesign, up to 900 ponies from their vault, and make them available to be 3D printed via Shapeways. In addition to their My Little Pony trademarks, Hasbro also has plans to further extend this project into other toys. This could be a game changer in the way toys are bought, sold, and designed.
The initial My Little Pony figures will be unveiled at Comic-Con 2014. The designs listed on the SuperFanArt website, currently are priced between $25 and $95. What do you think about Hasbro’s new business strategy? What will their plans with 3D Systems encompass now that they are working with Shapeways? Let’s hear your opinion in the Hasbro/Shapeways 3D printing forum thread on 3DPB.com
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