I’m looking at a crowdfunding campaign for the “Toybox”, and believe this could be a good option for a holiday gift.
The Toybox, a rather excellent name for a 3D printer designed for children, is a small, desktop 3D printer that is apparently straightforward to operate.
Technically, this is an extremely simple and low capacity design, what one might expect for an introductory device. It prints only PLA plastic, negating a need for a (potentially hazardous to children) heated build plate, and has relatively slow print speeds of 20-60mm/second, a cold build plate with easy-to-remove surface.
The print volume is decidedly small, at 90 x 80 x 100mm, constraining the types of models you can 3D print, but at the same time also guaranteeing the prints don’t take very long to complete.
What makes this a “kids” machine is that it also includes WiFi and an app, where you do most of the operation. The idea is to do “one click printing”, surely a way to ensure kids don’t get confused with the relatively complex operations found on most desktop 3D printers.
The California-based company, Toybox Labs, has included “hundreds” of appropriate 3D models accessible through their app to enable kids to print many different toys. Here’s a video showing how one could 3D print a number of parts to assemble a functioning toy:
The app also allows you to upload your own 3D models for printing, making it possible to access, at least theoretically, large repositories like Thingiverse. However, the very small build size would require careful selection of 3D models or sizing adjustments in many cases.
While the company sells small-size spools of filament for the Toybox, it appears you can also supply your own if you want different colors or materials, so long as it’s 1.75mm diameter and made of PLA.
The Toybox is available for pre-order at USD$249 (discounted from the apparent normal cost of USD$399). In addition, they “guarantee” delivery for “holiday 2017”, which seems to be listed as “January 2018” in some places on their page. [UPDATE] The folks at Toybox Labs inform us that you can indeed get your holiday item if you select the USD$319 option, whereas the USD$249 option will get you device in January.
Receiving a unit from a crowdfunding launch is often a risky business, with a large proportion of projects failing before they get a product in your hands. In this case, I see two things that make sense. First, they guarantee delivery by a date, and secondly there is the phrase “limited quantities”.
The limited quantities is the key to delivering product: it enables a company to actually plan carefully their method of production. It enables a maker to procure the right quantities of parts at the right time.
It’s certainly not an absolute certainty, but it seems they’ve been thinking about this, which is a lot more than many other product launches recently.