Toy maker Mattel unveiled ThingMaker and ThingMaker Design yesterday at New York’s Toy Fair: a a $300 (R4 721) 3D printer and a free CAD app aimed at children.

The ThingMaker 3D printer has a few features to appeal to children (and parents) besides the low price. To keep kids being burnt by plastic or caught in moving parts, the clear doors in the front shut closed once a print begins, while still allowing kids to gawk at the job. The print head to is safety focused, as it retracts when its not printing.

For filament you’ll find hard PLA in around two dozen different colours.

ThingMaker Design, however, is where things get interesting. The free app (which is downloadable right now on Android and iOS) was developed with Autodesk to make designing as easy (and fun) as possible.

You will find a library of modular toys which can be mixed and matched, and then customised with colours and textures. After you’re happy with your new toy, you print the separate modules which connect by way of ball joints. This not only allows different filaments to be used to change up the colours and materials, but also means smaller pieces can be completed first so the kids have something to play with.


Luckily, you won’t need a ThingMaker printer to use ThingMaker Design, as the app will output files as STLs, ready to print on almost anything.

The ThingMaker is set for an United States late fall (September in South Africa) launch, but it’s unknown weather it will see the light of day here in South Africa. Mattel’s other brands such as Barbie, Hot Wheels and Fisher-Price all have official support here, so there’s a strong chance we’ll get this unique product on our shores.


[Source – TechCrunch]