Mattel is set to launch a 3-D printer that will enable children to make their own toys. The world's largest toy maker, which also manufactures Barbie, unveiled the device during the New York Toy Fair last weekend. It comes with sophisticated 3D modelling software that allows the printer to be operated using a smartphone or a tablet.
The 3-D printer, which is called the ThingMaker, is easy to use. Through an app that can be downloaded from either Apple's App Store or Google Play, children can create toys by combining components from a large library or by using several blueprints, The Next Web reported. Children will be able to print objects that range from popular figures and animals to accesories such as rings and necklaces.
"All the physical behaviors are as it would be when it was actually printed out, so you can get an idea for how it is going to mechanically move and what the limits of all the joints and sockets that you create are," Dan Pressman, creative director at Autodesk, which helped Mattel build the ThingMaker, told USA Today.
The machine costs $299 and will be available at Amazon later this year. Despite the low price tag, the ThingMaker was able to print highly detailed and robust toys based on Forbes' hands-on experience. It was also able to combine hard and soft materials and reproduce colors – even those with glow in the dark elements.
The ThingMaker is aimed at children 13 years old and above. Mattel has also assured parents that the printer contains several safety mechanisms. For example, the printer door locks once the printing process begins.