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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Printeer Makes 3D Printing More Accessible To Kids And Classrooms

By Luke Villapaz

A California startup has developed a prototype and is more than halfway to the funding goal for its new 3D printer aimed at young learners.

The Printeer, with its transparent exterior revealing colorful internal workings, aims to make the growing hobby of 3D printing more accessible to students from kindergarten through high school. According to Mission Street Manufacturing, the Santa Barbara, California, startup behind Printeer, the 3D printer doesn’t require a computer or complicated computer-aided design (CAD) software to design 3D objects:
“Traditional 3D printers require the user to jump through many hoops to design and make something ready for 3D printing. Our software performs these tedious steps for you in the cloud,” Mission St. said in the description of Printeer’s Kickstarter.
Using the power of simplified iPad software and Wi-Fi, Printeer enables kids to design and print objects they designed and created with ease, ending up with a plastic final product.

While the Printeer's simple iPad software makes it suitable for children and educational settings, it can be used by a broader audience. Those already familiar with 3D design and printing can continue to use 3D printing files created from third-party CAD software with Printeer.

According to its Kickstarter page, the Printeer currently has 86 backers that have pledged nearly $28,000 to the project, well over 50 percent of its goal of $50,000.

Startups such as Mission Street Manufacturing and Makerbot have been at the forefront of making 3D printing more accessible to various audiences, and the idea of children printing their own playthings and treats has some kid-focused companies salivating. Toymaker Hasbro Inc. (NASDAQ:HAS) and confectionary giant Hershey Co. (NYSE:HSY), for instance, who have established partnerships and made investments with 3D printing company 3D Systems Corp. (NYSE:DDD), to develop new products and toys powered by 3D printing.

“We believe 3D printing offers endless potential to bring incredible new play experiences for kids,” Hasbro President & CEO Brian Goldner said in a press release from February, when Hasbro and 3D Systems first announced their partnership.

Hershey also partnered with 3D Systems to create new edible confectionaries such as chocolate through the use of 3D printing technology.

While Mission St. Manufacturing may soon have to compete with 3D printing offerings from Hasbro and Hershey, introducing the Printeer in schools may be its best course of action. At the price of $549 (according to currently available Kickstarter pledge options), kids probably won’t be smashing their piggy banks to get their own Printeer. But that may be just the price point needed to get schools to affordably introduce 3D printing to students.

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