Coming Soon: In-Store 3D Printers for Customized Toys

PieceMaker printer

PieceMaker CEO Arden Rosenblatt shows off his 3D Printer “Factory in a Store” at Toy Fair New York. Photo: Kathy Ceceri

This is the year 3D printing came to Toy Fair in New York City. Yes, MakerBot had their first-ever Toy Fair booth on the third floor, in amongst the robot companies and tech toys, where they hoped to interest toy makers in their technology.

But down in the overflow room in the basement, little Pittsburgh-based PieceMaker Technologies was showing off prototypes of their in-store 3D printing kiosk. The concept: customers pick a model, choose a color, place their order, and walk out 20 minutes later with a finished piece.

With 3D printing still a developing technology, how will PieceMaker get toy-store owners comfortable enough to run the often-finicky machines reliably? The answer, according to co-founder and CEO Arden Rosenblatt, is that customers will be choosing from a pre-tested set of designs. All the kinks have been worked out of the models available, so shop owners and customers don’t have to worry about air-printing or bird’s nest mishaps.

No, you won’t be able to bring your own STL files to print. But you will be able to suggest new designs, and the company will add new models regularly as they become available.

The PieceMaker customer kiosk. Photo: Kathy Ceceri

The PieceMaker customer kiosk. Photo: Kathy Ceceri

The 3D printer and customer computer station will belong to PieceMaker, something like a soda distributor placing its vending machines in a location (not the comparison Rosenblatt prefers, but fairly accurate). PieceMaker staffers will work with store employees to get them trained on the equipment. Once a store is up and running with their PieceMaker “Factory in a Store” set-up, the company will continue to maintain and service their equipment.

Rosenblatt, a Carnegie Mellon graduate, says the company will be installing their kiosks this spring in several stores in the Pittsburgh area.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates from Toy Fair New York 2014!


Tangeez: An Illuminated Building System

This past year at Maker Faire New York, Emily Webster and Mustafa Bagdatli showcased a new idea for childrens’ building blocks– Tangeez. They’re made in a similar way as Lego, with pegs and holes to fit them together, but the similarity ends there.

tangeez

Interior RGB LEDs light up depending on how the blocks are constructed. One color will illuminate if a single prong is inserted into a hole, but more colors will appear if multiple prongs are connected. The result is an interactive playset that snaps together with magnets and goes beyond normal building systems.

tanzeez1

Tangeez are made from recycled milk jugs, so you can be sure you’re investing in a product that’s eco-friendly. Tangeez are no stranger to World Maker Faire NY, and as Mustafa puts it, “We came along way since Maker Faire 2011 but Maker Faire was the venue that inspired us.”

They are currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign and we can’t wait to see their novel creation go into production.