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ThingMaker uses 3D printer technology for kids to create toys

(Photo from Mattel)


Remember toys that encouraged kids to make their own creations, like Easy Bake Oven and Creepy Crawlers? Toys like this are still around, but Mattel wants to take it a step further. At this past weekend's Toy Fair in NYC, Mattel unveiled their latest toys which are more sophisticated than Barbie dolls and board games. One of the more impressive is called ThingMaker, a reboot of a similar toy from the 60s that uses modern 3D printing technology.


Now kids can design and create their own toys that are more advanced than plastic bugs. Using the ThingMaker app, which Mattel developed with Autodesk, kids can create complex toys, jewelry, figures and accessories. ThingMaker will begin shipping orders this fall at $300 making it one of the more inexpensive and accessible 3D printers on the market.


But what about safety? We all know how dangerous those Easy Bake Ovens actually are with that really hot light bulb and metal plate. Giving kids a high tech printer to go wild with sounds fishy, but ThingMaker has that covered. There are several safety features including a retractable print head to prevent little fingers from touching it and an automatic door lock to make sure kids don't burn themselves. Just because this printer is designed with kids in mind, they still need to be patient: a large toy could take 6 to 8 hours to finish.


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The new View-Master promises a VR experience

(Photo from Mattel)


ThingMaker isn't only the toy Mattel is redesigning. The company also revealed a new View-Master at NYC's Toy Fair. Dubbed the View-Master DLX is based on Google Cardboard and features better optical lenses, focal adjustment, and a headphone connector. The headset also has a redesigned latch latch to keep it secure. There's also a smartphone mount which allows a greater range of phone sizes.


What makes this new View-Master different from the standard are a range of VR experiences, including a two player labyrinth game. It works by one player wearing the headset and playing the role of escapee. They have to solve riddles and puzzles to work their way out of the maze. The other player uses a physical book of clues to help the other make it out alive. The VR will also feature a dinosaur themes “experience pack” adding to its current line up of Space, Destinations, and Wildlife packs. The labyrinth game has a price tag of $19.99 while the packs will cost $14.99. The headset itself will be $40 and is expected to release this fall.


With these two technologically advanced toys hitting shelves later this year, Mattel are definitely stepping it up and keeping it modern. Both devices look promising and will be a big hit with kids this holiday season.


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The world’s largest 3D printer unveiled! WASP, the World’s Advanced Saving Project, has created a huge 3D printer called, “Big Delta” that is set to produce disaster relief housing. Big Delta stands 40 feet tall and 20 feet around and can print houses using naturally sourced materials like mud. (via WASP)



On Friday, January 29, 2016 the world's largest 3-D printer, called the 'Big Delta,' will be unveiled in Rieti, Italy. Luckily for us, the teams have already released information on the Big Delta along with pictures and an aerial view of the 40 foot tall, 20 foot wide 3-D printer. The design team is called WASP, or Worlds Advanced Saving Project, and they have a very ambitious goal to create houses for 4 billion people around the world who are expected to lack proper housing in 2030. Hence, Big Delta is their solution to a worldwide problem. However, they will focus initially on creating emergency housing for disaster relief.


The Big Delta can 3-D print low-cost housing created from locally sourced materials including dirt and clay. It could also print using rapid set cement. The printing nozzle, which sits in the middle of the structure, can mix materials before printing them on demand which makes it easier to use. Even though the scale of Big Delta is larger than life, it is able to function using less than 100 W - which is an advantage if they plan to use this printer in areas with limited resources.


While the utility of a 3-D printer like Big Delta, is apparent in disaster relief situations, WASP also foresees a growing need for cost-effective houses in highly populated areas. WASP created their own estimate of 4 billion people in 2030 who will need ‘adequate housing' that doesn't break their budget when living off of a salary of $3000 a year. If this idea proves itself viable in practice, then the 3D printed home revolution will begin.


WASP is an interesting team that uses a hybrid model to fund their projects of bringing affordable homes to impoverished areas worldwide. They sell smaller 3-D printers commercially, and the proceeds have been used to finance their research and creation of Big Delta, over the past three years. Their primary focus seems to be on creating clay houses, however have not actually printed at a house yet. The speed at which the Big Delta could print out a house will vary based upon the materials used and the climate. They report that using rapid set cement could allow the creation of meter high walls in a few hours. However, their focused on creating the most cost-effective houses in low resource areas; hence they expect to use natural resources within the area which will increase the 3D printing time because the walls must dry out and harden before new layers are placed on top. High humidity and rain could also have obvious detrimental effects on a clay house before it has been dried and set.


The Big Delta seems like it would be a good fit to make cob houses which are popular, low-cost, eco-friendly homes made from a dirt, water, and straw mixture. Cob houses are particularly popular in areas with earthquakes because they are very resistant to damage by earthquake disasters – even from stronger tremors. They are also popular with eco-conscious individuals who want to limit their carbon emissions, since cob houses are one-hundred percent biodegradable. 3D printed cob houses could become a new consumer market and they could also be used in areas around the world with high earthquake probability.


It is unclear how successful building clay houses will be worldwide, and the quality of these houses is entirely unknown, but I’m certain this is the first in a long line of 3D house printing technology. 



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