Everyone seems to agree that it’s important for children to start learning about 3D printing as early as possible. Thanks to educational outreach programs, grants and donations from several 3D printer manufacturers, it’s becoming much more common to see 3D printers in schools, but how many kids actually have their own 3D printers? Not too many, and you could certainly argue that children don’t necessarily need 3D printers at home, when they can access them at school.
However, there’s only so much hands-on experience an individual child can get when their classroom or school only has one 3D printer. With a printer at home, they have much more time and freedom to create, learn, and understand how the technology works. Although 3D printers are expensive, and many aren’t all that child-safe, there have been a few printers developed specifically for children released recently, and several others to be released soon, like the Mattel ThingMaker and the MiniToy, just to name a couple.
Safe, kid-friendly, and relatively inexpensive, these printers are a great way for kids to learn about technology while they play at home, and now Australian toy company Moose Toys is releasing a kids’ 3D printer for…wait for it…$25. The Qixels 3D Maker is the latest addition to the company’s Qixels product line, which was developed to get Minecraft-loving kids away from the screen by giving them physical “pixel” cubes that fuse together with water.
“We introduced Qixels to inspire all kids to be creative, improve dexterity and enjoy craft activities in a new way,” said Paul Solomon, Co-CEO of Moose Toys. “We’re thrilled to let kids take their creations to the next level with the Qixels 3D Maker, and give parents an opportunity to introduce the idea of 3D printing at an affordable price.”
The Qixels line in general is billed as being suitable for kids five years of age and up, and the 3D Maker is definitely designed for very young children as well as older kids. No CAD skills or electronics necessary – kids can either use provided templates or build their own designs, layer by layer, and brush them with water to watch the cubes solidify into a 3D object. It’s a simple introduction to the basic concepts and science of 3D printing without overcomplicating things.
“Brain-boosting playthings support children as they grow and gain new abilities,” said Adrienne Appell, trend expert at the Toy Industry Association. “From enhancing kids’ communication skills to improving their logic, the latest educational toys, like the Qixels 3D Maker, encourage kids to explore, experiment, design and discover, all while having fun!”
The Qixels 3D Maker has already won the 2016 Toy of the Year Award from the Australian Toy Association, as well as the Craft and Activity Toy of the Year, while the Qixels line won the Australian Development Award. The Qixels 3D Maker – and the rest of the Qixels product line – will be available in the US in August.