3D printing looks set to be the next technological innovation that changes the world. Things are moving forward at a rapid pace and what only recently seemed like futuristic dreams are already becoming reality. Right now the printers are costly and so developments are chiefly confined to the commercial world but it won’t be long before there are affordable 3D printers for the home. Parents had better start saving because soon it won’t tablets and mobile phones that their kids want for Christmas it will be 3D printers.
Printers for Children
Moves are already afoot to produce applications which will appeal to children. Toy giants Hasbro have announced that they are working with printing company 3D Systems to develop printers for children. Other organisations are bound to follow this lead. It may not be long before kids are printing their Barbie dolls and Transformers. Creative play could soon mean manufacturing your own toys. It all sounds a little healthier than another 3D Systems project which is 3D printed chocolate, a facility being developed in conjunction with Hershey.
There is plenty going on behind the scenes in the world of 3D printing and toys. Disney has already produced software which will turn their characters into 3D printed mechanical toys and kids can now design a doll version of themselves which can be printed and sent to them. How long before they can do the printing at home?
It all sounds very exciting. There could be money to be saved and there is endless potential for customisation. In the not too distant future it should be possible to design and customise a number of products and have them printed for you and, as the technology becomes cheaper, to print the items at home.
Some manufacturers do see issues with home printing. Apart from the fact they must be concerned with the impact the process will have on their profits, they have also raised questions over safety. At the moment you can buy toys which have been tested and approved and you can gain an indication of how appropriate they are for the age of the children. If items are printed at home this will not be the case and the printers could turn out to be another form of technology that requires restricted access for kids.
Knowing kids’ ability to get to grips with technology it would be all too easy for youngsters to create and print objects, including toys, which would be hazardous to themselves or to younger siblings and friends.
Create and Play
For the time being create and play still means the variety of toys and kits that you can buy in the shops or Blue Peter style creative projects with household items. The world is changing, however, and it cannot be too long before 3D printers are sitting alongside our computers at home and the kids will not only be able to choose their toys but also to design and manufacture the items themselves.
Sally Stacey is a keen writer and business owner who divides her time between writing and running her shop.