Machine Design

3D printer lets kids create custom toys


A 3D printer still in the prototype stage targets kids age 10 and up. Called the Origo, the device first started to take shape as inventor Artur Tchoukanov’s Masters project while he was attending the Umea Institute of Design in Sweden. Today, Origo is both the name of the device and the company. The device is intended to let kids print their own custom toys or small items. The printer is said to be as easy to use as an Xbox or Wii.

Kids start by creating figurines and shapes in a program called 3dtin, which is free and works inside Firefox or Google Chrome (no download needed). The program’s simple interface lets users create 3D shapes out of virtual blocks and export models in one of several commonly used 3D file formats.

Origo uses the data to 3D-print gizmos that can range in size from a small ring to a large mug. Printing takes a few minutes to an hour, depending on the object’s size and complexity. The company is developing a printing technique similar to FDM but uses a bioplastic filament as the material. The Origo is quiet, nontoxic, and child safe because the housing keeps kids away from hot areas.

So far, the company has identified 10 colors it wants to provide and is working on more. (Each 3D printed object can only be built in one color.) Also in the works is an optional pod that would shred objects so the material could be reused to make new toys. Origo, the company, is working with Belgium-based i.materialise, a 3D printing service, to develop the device.

© 2011 Penton Media, Inc.

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