Disney set to roll out 3D printed 'twinkling toys'

Last Updated: Thu, Oct 04, 2012 11:51 hrs

Disney is exploring the use of 3D printers to build new kinds of light features in toys.

The firm's researchers are working on a range of techniques, including 'light pipes' and tubes of enclosed air that can be made to glow in controlled ways.

They said that 3D printers can create objects with 'micron accuracy' that would otherwise be more complicated and costly to build. It paves the way for the firm to create new kinds of toys.

According to the BBC, a paper published by the entertainment giant's Pittsburgh labs details prototypes already created, including a bug-like figure with glowing eyes that display different graphics.

It also showed chess set pieces that use light to display information about their position on the board; and blocks of plastic that appear to show explosions inside when light is shone at them.

"We envision a future world where interactive devices can be printed rather than assembled," the team wrote.

"A world where a device with active components is created as a single object, rather than a case enclosing circuit boards and individual assembled parts," the team added.

"The toy industry will always look to see if it can use technology to enhance the 'wow factor'," John Baulch, editor of Toy World magazine, told the BBC.

"But the key thing is whether this can be used to make toys at a price that makes the end-product commercially viable," he added.

In the meantime, some in the toy business see 3D printers as a potential threat, allowing users to download designs and create their own toys at home.

According to the report, file-sharing site The Pirate Bay already hosts a limited number of 3D file blueprints and has claimed "physibles" would be the "next step in copying". (ANI)

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