Toy maker Mattel is using MakerBot 3D printers specifically to speed up the development of new toys. As Mattel developer Jack Peach reports, the METHOD and METHOD X devices allow him to create working prototypes faster and share them with design teams.
Previously, Peach had to have complex molds and metal parts milled off-site in the company’s own shop. That sometimes took several days. Today, he can print many parts himself overnight and test them immediately. This saves time, allowing ideas to be developed more quickly.
According to Peach, development begins with sketches and CAD models on the computer. Then the first parts are printed to test the mechanical function and fit. He usually uses durable materials such as ABS-R and nylon carbon, which are close to the later series parts. After testing with children, the models are further refined, printed again and tested.
Recently, for example, 3D printing helped develop a new toy with light and sound effects more quickly. Complex parts for electronics and a smaller joystick were realized in a matter of days. According to Peach, this meant the feature was ready for use months sooner.
For Mattel, turning product ideas into reality quickly is essential. With the help of 3D printing, the company aims to increase time to market for innovative toys and productivity. Instead of having to rely on external service providers for days on end, developers can print many parts themselves. This saves time and costs.
In addition, rapid on-site fabrication can speed up the entire development process. No parts have to be shipped or coordinated. Changes can be implemented quickly because only the 3D model needs to be adapted.
Peach says 3D printing is therefore a “game changer” for Mattel. He says 3D printers have become indispensable in his lab. They would take creativity and innovation at Mattel to a new level. Instead of weeks of waiting, tangible ideas could now be created in a matter of days.