Mattel doesn't think 3D printing should be limited to adults.
The toy maker is so sure that it is resurrecting a product from the 1960s in order to give today's children a chance to build their own toys. Mattel has brought back ThingMaker, a countertop device that over the last five decades has allowed kids to make Creepy Crawlers, masks, flowers, and other interesting shapes by heating up liquid plastic poured over molds.
ThingMaker is now a $299.99 3D printer that works with a 3D-printing app for iOS and Android (developed in a collaboration with Autodesk). It looks like a toy microwave oven and can print a range of plastic things, according to USA Today, including dolls, robots, jewelry, etc. Children can use the ThingMaker app to custom-design objects too, using templates or drag-and-drop features.
Although the app is live now and can be used with other 3D printers, Mattel’s new ThingMaker will arrive in the autumn. It will be able to print parts in batches, and it has an auto-locking printer door for safety purposes. But don't expect to print your kid a new Barbie-like doll in seconds. A small ring could take 30 minutes to print, while a large toy could take up to 8 hours.
Preorders for the device are live via Amazon. It'll be available 15 October.