Mattel unveils $300 3D printing studio that lets kids build toys on their iPhone and iPad


Toy maker Mattel is giving kids the ability to design and create their own toys and jewelry with the ThingMaker 3D. It’s a 3D printer priced at just $300 that’s specifically designed for building toys designed in the companion app for iPhone and iPad.

Mattel first gave kids the ability to build their own toys back in the ’60s with the original ThingMaker. That used molds into which you would pour liquid plastic before baking them in the oven. Now ThingMaker is back and better than ever before.

ThingMaker 3D is essentially a 3D printer aimed at kids. It’s surprisingly affordable at $300 (3D printers are still wildly expensive), and it works alongside an iOS or Android app. Kids can design toys on their smartphone or tablet, then send them wirelessly to the printer.

The app, built with the help of Autodesk, allows kids to build “a wide range” of toys and jewelry, such as skeletons, scorpions, and necklaces, reports GizmodoIt also works with third-party 3D printers, so if you already have one, you can use that to build new toys right away.

Like most 3D printers, the ThingMaker 3D only prints one color at a time, but you can pick different colors for different pieces of each toy. They can then be attached using ball-and-socket joints, which are used for most of the toys.

To make the ThingMaker 3D child-friendly, Mattel promises that all the toys that can be built inside the iOS app are suitable for ages 3 and up. It has also designed a retractable printer head that hides when the printer is not in use so kids can’t burn themselves on it.

“The ThingMaker 3D is one of the most accessible 3D printers I’ve ever seen,” writes Michael Nunez of Gizmodo. “That’s mostly thanks to its ridiculously intuitive app, which makes it super easy for people to understand what they’re printing out and how it would connect to other toy parts.”

The ThingMaker 3D will be available this fall, and you can pre-order yours on Amazon from today. Mattel has also promised that you’ll be able to download print outs for popular toys like Barbie and Hot Wheels later on.