May 15, 2015 | By Simon

Usually when we hear about how additive manufacturing methods are revolutionizing the medical industry, it’s in the form of customized and low-cost applications that were previously considerably more expensive and not quite as personal due to mass manufacturing constraints.

Now, a line of 3D printed toys are following suit and are offering scaled 3D printed assistive device for a range of disabilities ranging from deafness to mobility difficulties and even birthmarks.

Inspired by a recent Facebook campaign - Toy Like Me (#toylikeme) - UK-based 3D printed toymaker MakieLab (creator of Makie Dolls) has responded by creating a line of dolls that are not only customizable to match the owner of the doll - but can also be customized to match a disability of the doll’s owner, too.  

The Toy Like Me campaign was founded by parents who were rallying for greater ‘diversity in the toy box’, that reflected children in more inclusive ways than the market currently offers - such as those with hearing aids and walking aides.  Thanks to an extremely enthusiastic response from parents and families, the campaign already has an audience of tens of thousands (and growing) in support of toys that highlight children with disabilities.  

Not only has MakieLab delivered the best offering yet, but they were also among the first and quickest to do so immediately after hearing about the campaign - thanks of course, to the rapid manufacturing times of 3D printing.   

“Unlike mass manufacturing abroad, which can involve expensive tooling and long development timescales, 3D printing allows for local and bespoke which enables MakieLab to serve its customers in this uniquely responsive way,” said Alice Taylor, who founded Makie Labs after a career designing video games.  

The Makie dolls, which are sold both online and in department stores including Selfridges, are printed using SLS 3D printing methods and can be customized via an online editor or app.  Because of the high level of customization that 3D printing offers -  including everything from clothes and hair to hands and feet - one the company’s strongest selling points is that it’s possible to make a personalized doll with none other like it in the world.  The ability to create a personalized toy with the option to include disability aides couldn’t be more valuable for those who suffer from disabilities and struggle to fit in in a world full of toy designs that omit any of these attributes altogether.    

"It’s fantastic that our supercharged design and manufacturing process means we can respond to a need that’s not met by traditional toy companies,” said MakieLab CTO Matthew Wiggins.

“We’re hoping to make some kids - and their parents! - really happy with these inclusive accessories."

Currently, MakieLab is offering their ToyLikeMe features including hearing aids, walking aids, a wheelchair and more in their existing doll editor platform and are trialling custom facial characteristic including unique facial birthmarks.  



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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Anna Pileggi wrote at 5/19/2015 10:52:16 PM:

Hi Alice! this is such a great idea!! As you may have heard, I am good friends with Lisee Levitt who is our volunteer-extraordinaire!! AboutFace is based in Canada and we work with people with facial differences! I would love to speak with you more about perhaps a partnership with this program. I look forward to speaking with you about this! thank you for your creativity and innovation!

Lisee J. B. Levitt wrote at 5/19/2015 10:29:12 PM:

Hi Alice, Hope you & Cory & Poesy are well. I think your new project is wonderful. Do you know that I was born with a disability & I volunteer for a national, registered charity in Canada called AboutFace. When Roz sent me this amazing article today, I forwarded it on to Anna Pileggi the Executive Director of AboutFace. Anna would like the opportunity to talk with you. With your permission, I would love to give her your e-mail address. My disability is a facial birth defect call cleft lip & palate which affects speaking & hearing. Gord said I should give Anna your e-mail address, but I would like to hear from you first. Hope to see you when you are next in Toronto. Love to all, Lisee

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