3D Printing is becoming hard to ignore. Users are
producing anything from human ears (I’m not kidding) to titanium replacement
parts. The toy industry works at a less ambitious
level but still it is not immune from their effect as can be observed when visiting
the Makie Labs website.
Makie Labs, a UK based
toy company, is the maker of the Makie doll.
Well, actually you are the maker of the Makie
Doll which, if you like, can look like you; all through the magic of the
Internet and 3D printing.
The dolls consist of a pose able 10 “action doll body” (I
love that transgender term) that comes with a face and hands that you, the consumer, can customize to your taste through their computer screen. You can design its face, its hands, and its hair
and yes, its skin color too. Once the doll
has been designed, Makie Labs prints it out on their 3D printers and mails it
It is the 3D element, however, that really makes this
work because the cost of creating in 3D is the same for one unit as it is for a
million. Makie therefore has the same
cost for making one unique doll as
it would if it were making thousands. Not only that, but there are no unique tools,
no container ships, no molds and no need for stores. With 3D Printing the designer is the consumer
and the consumer is king.
There will certainly always be a need for mass produced
products that are one size fits all.
There is, however, a wonderful and growing opportunity for those who have
a niche idea and want to monetize it without having to encumber themselves with
the costs of a long supply chain.
Makie Labs provides a startling example for the toy
industry of how the Internet plus3D printing can disrupt the design,
manufacturing and retail landscape. Are
you in the 3D business? If so, let us
know how it is going.