Child’s imagination is endless, limitless, so creative that most adults would dream about such a wonder. Kids come up with the craziest ideas for games. Back in the day, it would have to stop there, or you would have to have a very dedicated and creative parent as well, to sit with you and build a ship or a car. And believe us, that wasn’t easy and sometimes you didn’t have the parts you need, so you had to improvise and make it work with what you have. Some people still argue that creativity and ingenuity blossom in such conditions. What do you think? Are handmade toys better than ones created with technology in your living room?
Today the technology has gone so far, that many things are accessible for the general public, like 3D printers, when 20 years ago they were mainly used for industrial purposes. Today anyone can buy 3D printer, and make whatever they want on it – a vase, a bowl for fruits, a bracelet, the list goes on and on. There is even such a thing as 3D printing for children and there are special kid-friendly printers, with simple design software and ease in use.
Some parents’ job is made easier with a kids 3D printer when you can have the toy right out of your kid’s imagination – a car that has squares for wheels, a helicopter, that is also a submarine, a Barbie dress, that is designed by your little princess and so on. It is also a great source of learning practical implications of engineering and math, it is engaging and makes learning so much more fun!
Let’s look a little closer at the history of 3D printing, which is much older than one can imagine.
Overview of 3D Printing
3D printers: a bit of history
First, let’s see what are 3D printers and what they can do.
The first one was invented in the mid-1980s by an American scientist Charles W. Hull. and it was used to print medical aid and medical parts. The technology used in the first 3D printer was stereolithography, which transforms digital data into tangible objects. First, you need to create the 3D digital model, so, later on, you can transform it into a live model.
Later on, between 1990-2010 3D printing was used widely in medicine to print human organs, and mainstream 3D printing was introduced. Nowadays, 3D printing is aimed at making cars, aircraft, even affordable housing for developing countries. Of course, it is not ideal yet, however, all these projects will surely be perfected and implemented soon.
3D printing technologies
Let’s talk a bit about the different technologies used in 3D printing. Taking into account the evolution of technologies in general and 3D printing in particular, these days there are so many different ways to 3D print your desired object.
Despite what one might think, not all them out there work with the same mechanism.
The first 3D printing process was Vat Polymerization, which includes such technologies as Stereolithography (SLA) and Digital Light Processing (DLP). Those printers are commonly used to print hearing aids, in dental work and jewellery.
Another process is powder bed fusion – metal and polymers. This process is used in Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) printers, which sinter polymers, and is commonly used to print functional parts and hollow objects.
Metal 3D printers or 3D printing technologies that use metal powder bed fusion process include Selective Laser Melting (SLM) and Electron-Beam Melting (EBM). Those are used to make functional metal parts in automotive and aerospace industries, as well as medical.
Another common process for this technology is material extrusion, and for example, Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology operates with it, and the parts printed are mainly used in fixtures and jigs, electronic housings, fit and form testing and so on.
There is a jetting process, that is also used in different 3D printing technologies. There are 2 main types of jetting: Binder Jetting (used for casting, full-colour models and metal parts) and Material Jetting that also include Drop on Demand (DOD) technology (used to create medical models, product prototypes in full colour and so on).
We will not go any further in detail about all these different technologies and processes used to create 3D printed objects since they really matter only to professionals that are trying to make functional parts for sale or their own use.
When it comes to printing toys: existing or completely invented by your very creative and inventive child, the process doesn’t really matter, but what matters is the safety, affordability and the size of the 3D printer, that you decide to get for your household.
Price and speed
All these technologies listed above are similar yet different in materials they use, how fast they can print the desired object, the quality of the product they produce and how much they cost. Each of these technologies is also used in specific industries, taking into account the type of objects they produce best and the needs of the industry itself.
When it comes to 3D printer cost, it varies from $200 to several thousand dollars for a high-end machine.
While industrial printers are the fastest, giving up to 1000 millimetres per second, the average consumer 3D printer for home use prints at a speed range of 50-100 mm/s. The slower speed will give you higher quality in the end product.
3D printer for kids
Why you need a 3D printer for your child
Technology has made its way to our everyday life so much that teaching the kids technology early on is a good idea, to give them an advantage and a kick start in our highly competitive world. And when do learning, building, and technology come together? Yes, you are right, in a 3D printer, that is mainstream enough today, that families can afford to buy them for their children for educational purposes or simply for fun!
Sometimes children want toys that are too expensive or they want so many of them, that buying is just not an option anymore. Also, when you think about it, even though there is a sea of different toys available for purchase, sometimes your child wants something so very specific, that is unfortunately just not out there for you to buy. Here is where 3D printed toys come in.
They are also a perfect purchase for families with very creative children when they love to invent and build things. Plus, it teaches them to think through all the details before building, since if your 3D digital model has a flaw or error, your printed object will have the same flaws or simply won’t come out the way you expected it.
When it comes to choosing the best 3D printer for kids, there are many things to consider.
When we think about our kids in combination with any kind of machine or technology, the first thing that comes to mind is safety. No matter what we buy for them, no matter what they want to play with, the most important thing for any parent is the safety of their child.
The most crucial rule to follow when operating a 3D machine – NEVER, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES LEAVE YOUR CHILD ALONE WITH IT! It is not a toy and can be quite dangerous if not properly used.
When it comes to a kids 3D printer, safety issues are threefold.
Firstly, there are the materials used to print. There are some printers that can create an object using edible materials, playdough, clay and so on. However more often than not plastic is used for 3D printed kids toys. Most often used ones are ABS and PLA plastics. PLA is a non-toxic bioplastic and ABS is the plastic used in making LEGO blocks.
Secondly, printed toys can pose a hazard themselves. The printers can be used to create dangerous objects, however danger for kids come from printing small and sharp objects as well. Thus making a 3D printed toy a choking hazard, or a sharp object, making it a stabbing hazard. Another hazard can come from the fumes that the printers make since they use a great amount of heat to melt or fuse the plastic. So make sure to use non-toxic plastic raw materials when choosing toys to print and make sure that space is well ventilated.
Thirdly, if you choose a DIY or a Kickstarter 3D printer kit UK has to offer, you will most likely have to assemble it yourself and the small parts can pose a threat as well. They are not toys to be played with, thus need to be kept away from the reach of children.
3D printers made for kids vs. normal 3D printers
There are printers that are made specifically for children which means that they are safer than normal ones. However even those are not toys themselves, so again, do not leave your children alone with them.
Kids 3D printers usually come in enclosed casings, they offer a much simpler design software, which is easy to use for beginners and kids. Another big plus of those printers is that they use much lower temperatures to extrude filament. You will surely find a perfect 3D printer for sale, out of the sea of them out there.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? However, those printers are also very limited in the materials that they can use to create the object. No glow in the dark, sparkling alumide or recycled water-resistant PET filament. Most of them also come with limited designing software, which is not what you want for your creative, imagination-run-wild child.
On the other hand, the normal printers offer a much bigger variety or filament, as well as end products. Always think about what you want to make in those printers and the size of the objects you want to have in the end.
Best 3D printed toys
As we already know, there is pretty much nothing that 3D technology can’t print for you and your child to enhance their creativity and imagination. The implications in the house of such a machine are great since they cannot only create objects that are for play but also objects used in the house, like personalized cups, plates, bowls. Your child can also prepare presents for the family and friends for holidays, which are custom made, special, and are the fruit of their imagination. Wouldn’t you want a cup that says “#1 Mom” or a necklace that spells the same thing for Mother’s day?
Some ideas for 3D printed toys include robots, legos, dolls, drone parts, customized toy cars, bottle rockets and so on.
Another way to go is to create and design your object – a musical instrument, a monster or, for that matter, anything else that comes to mind.
Which 3D printer to choose?
We have discussed many different options that are available on the market today and it is up to you to make a decision which one is the best budget 3D printer UK has to offer?
There are many options to choose from and you need to weigh all pros and cons before deciding to get one and see which one would be the best 3D printer for children in your particular case and household and which 3D printer shop uk you need to visit.
Decide on your price range first and go from there. Choose the one that fits your needs when it comes to speed and precision, as you see that they vary drastically in that department. Some are more professional, some are homemade, whereas others are more kid-friendly.
Here you have all the information you need to make an informed and well-thought decision on which would be your first 3D printer for kids. Just know that whatever you choose, it would do a great job in printing children’s toys and will drastically enhance your children’s creative thinking, imagination, and personality by adding a bit of extra flair to their toys through personalizing them and combining learning with pleasure.