Talking tech since 2003

Today, one of the biggest names in toys, the Pawtucket, RI-based Hasbro, announced a new partnership with 3D Systems, one of the few companies in the business of selling 3D printers to consumers and businesses. A press release published today explains that the two companies intend “to co-develop, co-venture, and deliver new immersive, creative play experiences powered by 3D printing for children and their families later this year.” Just what form that partnership will take, however, is as-yet unknown.

Hasbro President & CEO Brian Goldner had this to say on the occasion of the announcement:

“We believe 3D printing offers endless potential to bring incredible new play experiences for kids and we’re excited to work with 3D Systems, a recognized industry leader in this space.”

So what does this partnership mean in practical terms? That’s really anybody’s guess, but I have a few ideas about what might happen when the agreement starts to bear fruit sometime later this year.

The best place to go to see how this partnership will shake out is Cubify, the community and design-sharing forum maintained by 3D systems to be used with its “Cube” line of personal 3D printers. Under the Kids section, there are numerous areas devoted to designing and printing toys, crafts, and décor for kids, like “Robot Nation,” “Mission to Mars,” and “Blokify.” Immediately, I can imagine Hasbro lending its licenses to Cubify, giving users the opportunity to print out new pieces for Mr. Potato Head’s ever-expanding wardrobe, or to lend the likeness of C3P0 and R2D2 to Robot Nation.

Thinking more practically, there are also possibilities in terms of giving users the necessary files to print out replacement lightsabers for Star Wars toys, or supplemental accessories for other toy brands. Giving users the ability to print replacements on-demand could help Hasbro save overhead by cutting out shipping costs, and still allowing the company to take in a profit on the sale of those files.

Of course, this is all speculation. And since the most basic 3D printer offered by 3D Systems sells for around $1,300, I have to wonder at who will actually benefit from this partnership aside from the affluent few who have bothered to bring 3D printers into their homes. Regardless, I’m keen to learn more about what will come of this. We’ve reached out to Hasbro for comment, so hopefully we’ll learn more soon.

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