Feb. 23, 2015 | Alec

That 3D printers are great for manufacturing toys hardly needs repeating, but sadly most of them basic solid objects that today’s kids quickly get bored of. While you could of course construct one of the many 3D printable robots that populate the web nowadays, Go Time from Tennessee has been relying on 3D printing technology to develop a fun game with a theoretically endless replay value.

It’s called Gear Time, and it essentially consists of a series of gears and other modular parts that can be used to create an endless number of fun and original shapes and toys –you might call it the ‘gear version’ of Lego blocks. This makes it perfect for young children: ‘We want for kids to enjoy playing with real toys just as much as they love playing with their virtual toys. We want to show them that you don't have to be in front of a screen to have a good time,’ its developers explain. But more than just a fun toy, Gear Time also serves an educational purpose. Kids will not only have a great time playing with these gears, but it also allows them to practise basic spatial visualisation skills.

Gear Time started out as a fun community project in Chattanooga, Tennessee, as a concept in which kids could build their own cars and race them. ‘The idea finally came to light as the advent of 3D printing took Chattanooga by storm. We are very fortunate as a community to have public access to several 3D printers through our public library and university systems,’ Hoyt Jolly explains, who pioneered Gear Time. 'This led us to our current project, the modular gear gear system Gear Time was based on lessons learned from the Maker Racer.’

As Gear Time proved to be a great success among children and parents, Hoyt and his team are now trying to scale up their business and take it into mainstream production. As part of this ambition, they have already developed a fun app which enables children to plan Gear Time objects, while in the back of the car for instance. But to make Gear Time commercially viable, they have also reached the compelling conclusion that they will need to move from 3D printing to injection molding, as 3D printing technology is simply too expensive and time-consuming to use on a large scale.

And to do so, they need your help: ‘We are asking for the Kickstarter community to help us buy an injection mold by pre-ordering Gear time kits or by donating Gear Time kits to your local school, museum or hospital!’ Hoyt writes. ‘Our design is complete, we just need to get the industrial process going. There are always risks involved, but we have spent a lot of time developing using 3D printers, so risk has been minimized.’

But to make this a reality, Hoyt and his team needs to raise the substantial sum of $30,000 by the 16th of March. So far, it doesn’t look like they’re going to make it, as they’ve only raised a disappointing $39 in pledges so far. But Gear Time looks exactly like the type of toy that modern-day kids could use to distract them from iPads and games; therefore be sure to check out their Kickstarter here. And remember: if the necessary sum isn’t gathered in pledges by the 16th of March, none of them are cashed in. Furthermore, a pledge of just $10 is enough to get your hands on a set of Gear Time pieces, should the complete sum be raised. And who knows? Things can go quick on Kickstarter…



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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