Meet Printeer: a colourful 3D printer that’s being designed to appeal to kids. Ergo it looks fun, with brightly coloured parts displayed safely behind clear perspex panels, and also aims to be child’s play to use — using object design software that will run on an iPad.
Conjuring objects into existence with Printeer thus won’t require specialist CAD skills or even any tedious wrangling with a PC. Being a tablet app, it’s a case of doodle something with a finger and then hit print. Or so the promise goes.
Traditional 3D printers require the user to jump through many hoops to design and make something ready for 3D printing. Our software performs these tedious steps for you in the cloud. To ensure reliability, we’re building a robust backend system that tracks each print job, reboots a server or restarts a process when necessary, and balances demand between different servers to ensure fast service.
As 3D printers transition from cutting edge kit for pro geeks and makers to take aim at the mainstream market then additional niches are going to emerge to target particular consumer segments. And kids are an obvious choice to single out for their own dedicated 3D printers.
Toy and chocolate makers Hasbro and Hershey’s already have dollar signs in their eyes at the prospect of print-your-own toys/treats opportunities for children — and are engaged in 3D printing co-ventures of their own (with 3D Systems).
Printeer’s makers are taking the indie route to serve this market segment, putting their prototype device on Kickstarter to raise $50,000 to get to market.
At the time of writing they’ve raised more than half their funding goal, with another 24 days left of their campaign to run. If they hit that goal they’re aiming to ship to backers starting in September.
The Santa Barbara-based startup is leaning heavily on the educational angle, partnering with local schools in California to introduce Printeer into after-school programs and show it off at in-classroom demos. Their stated aim is to sell to “schools we’ve never heard of, in towns and cities across the country”.
The machine is being positioned as a focal object for technology learning thanks to its on-display, moving hardware parts, and its potential to inspire kids about the power of software via an easy to use app that yields a tangible output (via the items they print).
The cost of the device — which started at $499 for a handful of early Kickstarter backers, and is now $549 or more — is expensive enough to make the focus on schools and educators a more realistic way to get this 3D printer into the hands of kids, whose own pocket money isn’t going to stretch to $500+ a pop.
Elsewhere in the 3D printer market, consumer-focused makers are doing what they can to squeeze additive manufacturing into increasingly simplistic cubes which carry a sub-$200 price-tag, such as the MOD-T printer or the Micro.
But the Printeer’s makers reckon there’s still room for a pricier consumerized 3D printer, with a few more visual bells and whistles, and with its additional cost justified by an educational focus.