3D printers and their associated technologies aren’t the newest ideas on the block, but they’ve been relatively unknown within the mainstream market and are often limited to those with considerable technical prowess or rather advanced applications like NASA building projects and similar industrial settings. However, there’s no denying that home-based consumers are getting involved in 3D printing and this is being confirmed more and more with each passing day. Now, MakerBot has teamed with the minds behind Sesame Street to release licensed merchandise to its digital store; allowing those with compatible printers to print Sesame Street figurines at home.
While this is undoubtedly big news in terms of mainstream acceptance and recognition of 3D printers on an international scale, MakerBot have currently only released a Mr. Snuffleupagus (the wooly mammoth friend of Big Bird) model into its store of available designs to print. It’s believed that this is being done to gauge the public’s reception of the idea before the store releases the more widely recognized characters, which are likely to be at a higher licensing cost and thus more costly to consumers.
The modest figurine measures in at roughly 4 x 3.5 x 3.5” and will fit in the palms of most hands. The colours of the model can be customized as needed and will require three hours to fully print using one of MakerBot’s own printers, the Replicator 2 and the original Replicator. Its launch guide price is being set at $1.29 USD.
Concern From Industry Leaders
While the project is certainly doing its bit to set 3D printers into the mainstream stone, it’s being met with some concern from industry leaders. According to Sam Loveday of ToyNews, it’s being thought that 3D printers could become the equivalent of what illegal downloading did to the music industry throughout the 1990s and continues to do to this very day. With the availability of commercially licensed products and models, toy makers are worried that their designs could be illegally distributed and shared amongst 3D printer users to significantly reduce purchases being made and ultimately damage their profits.
This concern isn’t something that’s rampant or shared widely within the toy industry though. Many toy makers are adopting the idea that 3D printers are “too expensive and take too long to use” to pose any sort of significant threat to their profit margins. Overall, 3D printers are believed to only provide a “creative extension” rather than a complete replacement.