3D Printing the Mattel Way

On several occasions, I’ve discussed 3D printing or directed you to some discussion of it. I’m here to do it again. I’ve gotten some feedback that it wasn’t practical or wasn’t going to happen quickly, but as far as I can tell it’s moving forward.

Mattel has announced a $300 3D printer that will allow kids to make toys. Yes, yes, I’m sure it’s limited in what it can do, etc., but it’s better than what was available before and not as good as what will be available tomorrow. And tomorrow’s will be even cheaper of course.

I’m sitting here thinking about the small, usually branded, accessories retailers sell for pretty low prices and high margins. I’m wondering:

1. How many of them can currently be manufactured by this machine?
2. If there’s any reason a retailer shouldn’t eventually have one of these machines (or the next generation) in their store to print certain accessories as required, rather than carrying inventory?
3. If any retailers in our industry have been in touch with Mattel to make sure their logo is part of the software for certain products?
4. What brands are creating software templates that retailers can use and pay for to make these products?
5. Just what products, exactly, will eventually be produced and sold this way?
6. Why a consumer couldn’t configure and purchase a product on an app and be notified when it was ready to be picked up?
7. The extent of customization that is or will be possible?

I imagine I should be wondering some other things I just haven’t thought of. Anyway, here’s the link. My sense is that if you ever thought you could just ignore 3D printing, you are now officially wrong.