Part of 3D printing's promise is that you'll be able to print useful things at home. And that's precisely what the Toybox from Make.Toys does: it simply and quickly prints toys. You just pick the toy you want from a selection on the company's website, hit the print button and wait. Your completed toy then pops out, ready for play.mini toy 3d printer
The process works, mostly: We were able to print toys like trains, track, castle parts and walls and small action figures from the simple-to-use web interface, and they were faithfully printed in sturdy, nontoxic PLA in a range of colors. But, like growing up, there are a few teething issues you need to get through first with the Toybox, such as the odd failed print and an interface with a few rough edges.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Toybox is cute. It's a small printer, less than 8 inches wide and a little more than 9 inches high. The frame is metal, with open areas revealing the printhead and removable print bed. The print bed is a magnetic sheet that holds tightly onto the base, but which slides off easily when the print is done. Because this base is flexible, you can remove prints by bending it until they lift off.
Spare print beds are cheap: three will cost you $14. The filament comes in 0.5lb (about 220g) reels that cost $10 each and fit onto the back of the printer. Although these reels are smaller than most and carry only 0.5lb of filament, you can use any 1.75mm PLA filament if you can work out a way to feed it to the printer.
The Toybox can't produce large prints: they are limited to just over 3 inches on each side. Considering the size of the printer, that is no big surprise, and the toys on offer are either small, or print in small parts. The train track, for instance, can be printed in 2-inch lengths that fit together to produce a larger model. The layer height (the thickness of the layers used to create the print) is also fixed at 0.2mm, which is pretty standard for small printers.
Make.Toys plays up the cute angle with the naming of the parts: the power supply is an "electron feeder" and the filament is "printer food." The food metaphor stretches to the colors as well: green filament is called apple, purple is grape, white is coconut and so on. It's a cute idea, but it also has to be accompanied by the warning that the filaments are not edible.