Mattel remakes '60s ThingMaker toy as an easy-to-use $300 3D printer

The newest version allows users to print hundreds of parts that assemble via ball-and-socket joints

Thingmaker Mattel 3D printer

Mattel's ThingMaker 3D Printer and ThingMaker Design App is expected to ship later this year. Could a $300 3D printer capable of making hundreds of parts that can be assembled into toys finally place the technology next to the inkjet printer in the home?

Credit: Mattel Inc.

Mattel has reinvented its iconic ThingMaker at-home toy-making device, this time as a 3D printer that will cost just $300.

Mattel unveiled its 3D printer at the New York Toy Fair taking place this week.

Preorders for the ThingMaker 3D Printer began this week. The machine will be available Oct 15. (See Amazon.com pricing.)

The original ThingMaker was limited by several dozen die-cast molds, into which a user would pour Mattel's Plastigoop thermoplastic or Gobble De-goop edible liquid, which was then cured using a 360-degree Fahrenheit hotplate. Plastigoop made Creepy Crawlers and other single-piece toys; Gobble De-goop made Incredible Edibles that could be eaten.

The new ThingMaker 3D Printer is a fused filament fabrication machine that extrudes layer upon layer of melted thermopolymer to create an object. The thermopolymer filament comes in multiple colors on reels that attach to the 3D printer.

Users upload design files via Mattel's proprietary Design App, which works on Android or iOS devices, and can print parts to be assembled into toys.

Mattel 3D printer Thingmaker Mattel Inc.

The ThingMaker Design App allows users to download files to iOS or Android devices and then upload them to the 3D printer to create toys.

After downloading the ThingMaker Design App, families can browse through toy templates or build their own creations from hundreds of parts also offered in loadable files. Designs get uploaded from the files to the ThingMaker 3D Printer, which prints parts in batches for assembly via ball-and-socket joints.

Mattel's ThingMaker Design App is based on Autodesk's Spark, an open 3D printing platform that provides extensible APIs for each stage of the 3D printing workflow. Because it's based on an open architecture, the ThingMaker Design App also works with other 3D printers; it is available now and free to download for iOS and Android devices.

"In today's digital age, it's more important than ever for families to transcend the digital world and make their ideas real," Aslan Appleman, senior director at Mattel, said in a statement. "ThingMaker pushes the boundaries of imaginative play, giving families countless ways to customize their toys and let their creativity run wild. We're thrilled to work with the 3D design experts at Autodesk to bring this one-of-a-kind experience to life."

This story, "Mattel remakes '60s ThingMaker toy as an easy-to-use $300 3D printer" was originally published by Computerworld.

To comment on this article and other CIO content, visit us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.
Download the CIO Nov/Dec 2016 Digital Magazine
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.