Toybox is a 3D printer designed for children

How many children have had the chance to experiment with 3D printing technology? Not that many, I suspect: those with particularly early-adopting parents, and those whose schools are lucky enough to have the budget to buy cutting-edge tech.

Even so, some companies are clearly thinking about how 3D printing might become accessible to children. For example, check this new device called Toybox, whose creator is trying to raise $40,000 on crowdfunding site Indiegogo for “the first easy-to-use, one-touch 3D printer for kids to design and print their own toys”.

With 24 days left, Toybox has already reached its funding target – perhaps the promise of “no mess” convinced any waverers! The ambition is to deliver the first run of devices to backers in January 2018, although people who pay a bit more can get them in time for Christmas.

On one level, it looks like children will use a companion app to browse Toybox’s catalogue of more than 500 toys, and then choose the ones they want to print out as 3D objects. However, the more fun aspect for me is the option for kids to design their own toys and print them out.

It’s early days for this kind of technology, and there are plenty of questions. How easy will the designing process be? Clips on the Indiegogo page show kids drawing their designs by tracing their finger on the touchscreen, which looks very accessible. But how robust will the printed-out toys be, and how long will the $34 ‘printer food’ packs last before you need to buy more?

All of this will become clear early in 2018. For now, if Toybox is of interest, you can still plonk $249 down on for an early-bird model – that’s less than the $399 price it’ll cost after the first 50 have been sold – or choose the $319 option if you want the pre-Christmas delivery.

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