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3D printing and toys

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The development of digital technologies provided us with a possibility to immerse into virtual world and to “co-exist” with our favourite characters, and then, thanks to 3D printing we can reproduce them in our world. Finally, it is possible to make our ideas more tangible, and it is so much better to hold your creation in your arms than to look at its drawn version.

3D printing ushers in a new era of the toys history. The world largest companies have already understood the tendencies they can expect much revenue from and follow them successfully. For instance, a well-known corporation, LEGO, obtained a patent and now provides customers with a possibility to print designed bricks.

The research group from Disney has created a printer for printing soft interactive objects. Although it seems like they are made from pieces of fabric glued together, toys are pleasant to the touch and may become popular.

Mattel, a company that created Barbie, teamed up with Autodesk, one of the leaders in the field of 3D projection systems, to create a design app, ThingMaker, for Android and iOS, along with a 3D printer. Actually, they resurrected a classic Mattel product introduced in the 1960s. It was a device kids could use to fabricate squishy toys by pouring liquid resin into metal molds, which were then baked in a hot oven. Now children can do the same without a risk to burn their hands.

Moreover, kids are not limited by joining or filling in already existing parts and forms. They can create the design of their own toys with 3D software. For instance, Blokify, allows building any constructions from blocks.

Toy Like Me went even further: kids can create an exact duplicate of themselves. Barbies with their model looks are not “politically correct”, so are the Bratz, so this time the brand aimed at supporting kids with unusual appearance or any physical disabilities. Now children can play with a new kind of dolls that may have a prosthesis, a spike or pigmented skin – just how it is in the real life. This solution kills two birds with one stone: improves young designers’ imagination and boosts their self-esteem.

Elder kids could use usual 3D modelling apps like SketchUp that is beginner-friendly. However, you should take into account that this software is professional and have some more requirements. With the release of SketchUp 2017, there will be no support for 32-bit operating systems. The app runs only on Windows 7, 8 and 10 and on Mac OSX Yosemite, El Capitan and Sierra. It requires a 3D-class video card with 1GB of memory or higher and 700MB of available hard-disk space, so you need to know how to clean up Mac hard drive or free up the disk space on Windows just in case.

Obviously, not only kids can enjoy using advanced technologies and making their own toys. You as an adult must not just stand by and regret you had no such possibilities in your childhood. Besides, you can use various materials. If you want to get solid products, you can take bronze or white polyamide, for example, or, a transparent photopolymer if you need to make visible all the tiny details. It is even possible to print a toy of gold or silver.

Moreover, the world of 3D technologies opens the doors not only to those who love toys, but also to those who want to make money. You can turn your hobby into profitable business.

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