Dec 10, 2015 | By Benedict

PieceMaker Technologies, a retail 3D printing company based in Pittsburgh, PA, has announced a partnership with Nickelodeon, which will see several beloved children’s television characters getting the 3D printing treatment. The partnership will see some PieceMaker 3D printing booths, in which kids will be able to select and customize their chosen character, introduced to a limited number of Mid-Atlantic toy stores. The 3D printing process, fully visible to the customer, takes under 30 minutes to complete.

Although the interactive 3D printing process will prevent Santa from keeping these unique toys secret, kids will surely be excited about the prospect of creating their own miniature figurines from SpongeBob Squarepants, Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles, Dora and Friends and Blaze and the Monster Machines. The 3D printed figurines, all of which cost less than $15, can be personalized by the booth operator to suit their whims and preferences.

PieceMaker has been around since January 2013, and provides 3D printing booths to a number of U.S. retailers. Its dedicated platform, the “PieceMaker Factory”, is primarily used to produce customized toys and fashion accessories, with “tween” shoppers serving as the key demographic. Its partnership with Nickelodeon should help the company to gain new customers, with the recognizable faces of the entertainment brand’s characters an irresistible draw for youngsters.

“We are tremendously excited to join together the world of 3D printing and personalization with such popular Nickelodeon characters, especially as kids can see their customized pieces come to life while they watch right in store,” said PieceMaker CEO Arden Rosenblatt. “Nickelodeon is a leader in bringing cutting edge technology and experiences into kids’ everyday lives, and we are thrilled with this partnership.”

The PieceMaker business model certainly demonstrates a new approach to toy-making and children’s commerce. The Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles toys of my childhood, long since passed on to charity shops or elementary schools, were, needless to say, nothing like these 3D printed PieceMaker models. Those figurines of the not-too-distant past, produced via injection molding techniques, weren’t tailored to our specifications, and we certainly never witnessed their production process. If we didn’t want Donatello or Rafael to be eating pizza, that was too bad. The toys had been made in Taiwan months before we had even torn open the packaging.

Whether these 3D printed toy booths will spawn many imitators is a matter of contention. There is of course a huge novelty factor in seeing a product created at your behest and before your eyes, and the ability to customize the toy before it’s made is appealing to kids. There are, however, many reasons why shoppers will favor the molded, packaged alternatives. Although many of PieceMaker’s simpler designs can be 3D printed in a matter of minutes, the half hour waiting time for some of the Nickelodeon models will surely test the patience of many children, not to mention parents. Furthermore, the build quality of molded toys remains far superior at present, with the rugged moving parts made via subtractive manufacturing still an indispensable weapon in the toymaker’s arsenal.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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