The story of Toybox: Designing a 3D printer so simple, a kid could use it

Printing toys, burning cash, and selling out on SharkTank - this is the perilous story of Toybox Labs, building 3D printers for kids.
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Toybox aims to bring an almost magically simple experience to kids: With the press of a button, a small machine will print nearly any toy imaginable, all in their own home.

Toys are a good match for consumer-grade 3D printers. Although industrial 3D printers can produce a small house in about 24 hours, hobbyist printers like Toybox print more slowly, and the smaller size of the device limits the range of producible objects. 

Simple toys fall in the sweet spot. To build them, Toybox works like other 3D printers: stock the printer with filament, connect it to a computer, choose a design, and it can print objects within minutes to a few hours, depending on the complexity of the design. 

What makes Toybox unique isn’t necessarily its hardware, but rather its ease of use and the company’s software, which includes an online catalog of free and customizable toy designs: animal figurines, castles, miniature cars, whistles, ninja stars, and fidget spinners, to name a few. Users can also create and upload their own toy designs for others to download, and the device can print designs from outside of the Toybox network. 

Today, the simplicity of Toybox and its wide variety of toy designs are helping the company earn millions in revenue. But that success came only after multiple close calls with failure.

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