3-D printing has been one of the biggest crazes in tech over the past few years. And as with other big tech crazes before it – think smartphones and tablets – the age of entry is lowering. Last year, we took a look at the ill-fated Printeer kids' printer. The all-new Bonsai Lab BS Toy we checked out at the recent 2015 Nuremberg Toy Fair picks up where that one left off, offering a simple design aimed at families and children.

The Printeer looked like it would be among the first 3D printers purpose-designed for children, but it never got off the ground. After a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised more than double its goal, Mission Street Manufacturing had to scrap the design due to high manufacturing costs.

"After working on Printeer for over 16 months, we have determined that this project is not viable in its current form," Mission Street explained to Kickstarter backers. "We have therefore decided to suspend all development and manufacturing of Printeer. Quality has become our Achilles heel, and we’ve never quite been able to reach the quality level we know you and other customers expect from a $500+ product."

On the plus side, the company promised to refund all Kickstarter pledgers. On the downside, it left a generation of creative children without an age-appropriate 3D printing outlet.

Though Bonsai Lab seems loath to call it a "3D printer for kids," the BS Toy seems primed to step into that role. Officially, Bonsai calls it a 3D printer for "educational or home use", but between its model name, its small size, its projected price, and its child-friendly features, it seems like it will find most use among children ... with close parental supervision, of course.

The BS Toy is a smaller, safer follow-up to Bonsai Lab's BS01+ printer. Bonsai had the BS01+ busy printing in Nuremberg, but the Bonsai Toy was still just a non-working model. The company hopes to have it ready later this year.

The BS01+ at the Nuremberg Toy Fair (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)

Unlike some of larger, more serious 3D printers, which might be intimidating and downright scary to children, the BS Toy is a pint-sized, 8-in (20-cm) cube that weighs just 4.4 lb (2 kg). The key to making it friendly for "home or educational use" is in a specially designed filament from Polymaker. The BS Toy's filament melts at 176° F (80° C), which Bonsai Lab says is less than half the average melting temperature of filaments from other 3D printers. It's still not exactly breezy cool, but it does lessen the likelihood of serious burns.

Bonsai Lab hopes to get the BS Toy to market by the 2015 holiday season and estimated a price of US$500 to $600 when we dropped by the company's booth at the toy fair last week.

Bonsai launched its BS01+, also a small, home-friendly printer at 11 lb (5 kg) and 10 x 10 x 10 in (25 x 25 x 25 cm), last year in Japan and sells it for ¥90K (US$770). It plans a worldwide launch soon and is currently looking for distribution and licensing partners. Both the BS Toy and BS01+ are designed to work with Windows 7+ and Mac OS X, with Repetier-Host, Cura and Simplfy3D as recommended software options.

Source: Bonsai Lab

View gallery - 4 images