Next Article in Journal
Determining the Reliability of Several Consumer-Based Physical Activity Monitors
Next Article in Special Issue
Special Issue on “Additive Manufacturing Technologies and Applications”
Previous Article in Journal
DC Model Cable under Polarity Inversion and Thermal Gradient: Build-Up of Design-Related Space Charge
Previous Article in Special Issue
A Robust Multifunctional Sandwich Panel Design with Trabecular Structures by the Use of Additive Manufacturing Technology for a New De-Icing System

Technologies 2017, 5(3), 45;

Impact of DIY Home Manufacturing with 3D Printing on the Toy and Game Market
Department of Material Science and Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA
MyMiniFactory, London E1 2JA, UK
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 May 2017 / Accepted: 6 July 2017 / Published: 20 July 2017


The 2020 toy and game market is projected to be US$135 billion. To determine if 3D printing could affect these markets if consumers offset purchases by 3D printing free designs, this study investigates the 100 most popular downloaded designs at MyMiniFactory in a month. Savings are quantified for using a Lulzbot Mini 3D printer and three filament types: commercial filament, pellet-extruded filament, and post-consumer waste converted to filament with a recyclebot. Case studies probed the quality of: (1) six common complex toys; (2) Lego blocks; and (3) the customizability of open source board games. All filaments analyzed saved the user over 75% of the cost of commercially available true alternative toys and over 90% for recyclebot filament. Overall, these results indicate a single 3D printing repository among dozens is saving consumers well over $60 million/year in offset purchases. The most common savings fell by 40%–90% in total savings, which came with the ability to make novel toys and games. The results of this study show consumers can generate higher value items for less money using the open source distributed manufacturing paradigm. It appears clear that consumer do-it-yourself (DIY) manufacturing is set to have a significant impact on the toy and game markets in the future.
toy industry; additive manufacturing; 3D printing; consumer; economics; open-source

1. Introduction

After 20 years of legal intellectual monopoly, the fused filament fabrication (FFF) technology of additive manufacturing (AM), where a single layer of polymer is deposited after another, was unshackled by the open source release of the self-REPlicating RAPid prototyper 3D printer (RepRap) [1,2,3]. This open source hardware approach [4] led to a rapid technical evolution, which resulted in aggressive cost declines and the desktop 3D printer market emerged [5], dominated by various RepRap derivative machines [6,7]. Early adopters of these 3D printers were largely used for prototyping and the maker community, but this has morphed into peer production [8]. Digital peer-production with RepRaps found an eager audience among scientists to develop experimental tools [9,10,11,12]. In addition, teachers adopted the technology looking for high-quality educational experiences for their students [13,14,15,16,17] as well as those looking for economic sustainable development with appropriate technologies [18,19]. Sales of desktop 3D printers, however, are now moving towards the mass consumer market [6].
A pair of recent studies indicate that 3D printing technology is lucrative to adopt for average consumers. In the first study, the purchase of US$500 components of a RepRap were justified by printing a handful of consumer products [20]. However, not all consumers are technically sophisticated makers able to build such a complex mechatronic technology alone, so a second study [21] looked at the use of an open source fully-assembled 3D printer (Lulzbot Mini, which retails for US$1250). The costs of printing 26 free designs were compared with purchasing commercial equivalents and the study found that producing consumers would earn nearly a 1000% return on investment (ROI) from the purchase of a 3D printer over a printer lifetime of five years printing out only one product a week [21]. In addition, it appeared that consumers had already offset over $4 million in purchases only from those random 26 products, which indicates that as 3D printer use in the home becomes more widespread, distributed manufacturing with open source designs could begin to have a significant macroeconomic impact [21]. There is significant skepticism of this potential [22] as the Foxconn CEO famously referred to 3D printers as “a gimmick” [23] and popular representations of 3D printers used only for toys in the home. However, the toy market is substantial and is not so easily dismissed, with the U.S. average spending per child on toys being $371/year [24] resulting in a U.S. market of more than US$10 billion/year [25] in 2013. In 2016, the NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service noted that the U.S. toy market had grown to $20.36 billion [26] and the global toys and games market is projected to reach US$135 billion by 2020 [27]. What are the effects on these markets if consumers are offsetting purchases of products like toys with 3D printing and free designs now?
To probe the potential economic impact of home use of 3D printing technology, this study closely investigates consumer use of a popular free website (MyMiniFactory) for 3D printable products. An economic analysis is performed from the perspective of users producing toys for themselves in their own homes. Specifically, the economic savings of the top 100 most popular designs as indicated by downloads (not views) on MyMiniFactory are quantified for January 2017. These savings are quantified using the sliced mass of filament and electricity consumption of a Lulzbot Mini 3D printer, the U.S. average electricity rate and three prices of filament: (1) the most popular filament sold on Amazon; (2) the use of a plastic extruder to make filament from commercial plastic pellets; and (3) the use of a home recyclebot to convert waste post-consumer waste into filament. The type of product is also evaluated and, because of the preponderance of products that can be classified as toys and games, three detailed case studies are undertaken. First, six common toys with equivalent products are evaluated in detail for functionality and value. Next, as Lego currently dominates the toy market [28] an economic evaluation is run using 3D printers only as Lego-compatible block factories. Finally, the costs and customizability are evaluated for an open source board game. Overall, the results are discussed in the context of distributed manufacturing in consumer homes and economics of do-it-yourself (DIY) production.

2. Materials and Methods

2.1. Download Value Quantification

A selection of items comprised of the 100 most downloaded files in January 2017 from MyMiniFactory, a repository for free 3D printable objects, was selected for analysis. The design and number of downloads (Nd) is shown in Table 1.
The items were uploaded into Cura 15.04.6 (Ultimaker, Geldermalsen, The Netherlands) [29] and the resulting data regarding estimated print time, item weight, and length of the filament used were recorded. In addition, a 3-mm poly lactic acid (PLA) was selected as the filament because it is the most common household consumer 3D printing material and is available from most 3D printing suppliers. PLA has gained prominence, as not only does it demonstrate less warping during printing than other materials such as the second most common 3D printing plastic (ABS, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), but the emissions during printing are less pungent [30,31]. Furthermore, PLA is made from corn-based resin, making it non-toxic, biodegradable, and able to be produced in environmentally friendly, renewable processes [32]. The items were then categorized into three groups using commercial PLA: (1) those that saved the consumer money when compared to a commercially available alternative product; (2) those that lost money because a less expensive product was available; and (3) those for which there was no alternative product. Items ranged from action figures and masks to non-toy items and cosplay paraphernalia as seen in Table 1.
A commercial price for each product was found primarily on and supplemented using Google Shopping. Associated shipping costs were excluded from the analysis for both purchasing and distributed manufacturing (e.g., no shipping charges included for plastic filament). Following [21], the operating cost (O) for the Lulzbot Mini [33] was calculated using electricity and filament consumption during printing with 15% infill. The average electric rate in the United States was found to be $0.1267 per kWh for the residential sector [34]. A sensitivity was run on the cost of the filament (CF(source)) using:
(1) the most popular filament sold on, CF(filament) is US$23/kg [35];
(2) the use of a plastic extruder such as a commercial systems (e.g., Filastruder, FilaFab, Noztek, Filabot, EWE, Extrusionbot, Filamaker, Strooder, Felfil, ExtrusionBot) to make filament from commercial PLA pellets (source) CF(pellets) is US$5.50/kg [36];
(3) the use of a home recyclebot (waste plastic extruder) to convert waste post-consumer waste plastic into filament [37] CF(waste) (which can be as low as a few cents per kg in horizontal recyclebots) for ABS in vertical recyclebot in another study it was found to be US$2.16/kg [38] and will be used here to be conservative.
The operating cost, O, of a 3D printer was calculated as follows:
O = EC E + C F m f 1000 [ USD ] ,
where E is the energy consumed in kWh, CE is the average rate of electricity in the United States in USD/kWh, CF is the cost of a given filament in USD/kg, and mf is the mass of the filament in grams consumed during printing. The marginal savings on each project, Cs, is given by:
CS = CC − O     [USD],
where CC is the cost of the commercially available product and the marginal percent change, P, between the cost to print a product and the commercially available product was calculated as follows:
P = C S C C × 100 [ % ] ,
where CC is the cost for the commercial product at either the high or low price. Finally, the value obtained from a free and open source 3D printable design can be determined from the [39,40] at a specific time (t):
V D ( t ) = C S × P × N d ( t ) [ USD ] ,
This value is determined by the number of downloads (Nd) during January 2017 and P where is the percent of downloads resulting in a print. It should be pointed out that P is subject to error as downloading a design does not guarantee manufacturing. On the other (more likely) hand, a single download could be fabricated many times, traded via email, memory stick or posted on P2P websites that are beyond conventional tracking. Here, to remain conservative, P is assumed to be 1 and the total savings found over MyMiniFactory in 1 month on the top 100 downloaded items is determined by:
V DT ( t ) = i = 0 100 V D ( t ) [ USD ] .
Three case studies are then presented to probe the economics of individual types of toys and games.

2.2. Case Studies

2.2.1. Six Toy Product Comparisons

As is clear from Table 1, the most popular types of 3D printable design are niche-community toys (e.g., gamers, cosplay, etc.). Six more common toy products with existing free designs on MyMiniFactory were selected for more detailed comparisons attractive to a wider audience. Printing costs for these toys were estimated using $24/kg filament and the closest commercial equivalent was found online. The toys are compared visually and the savings percent is calculated by Equation (3), where it is conservatively assumed to be zero (e.g., the electricity cost was ignored).

2.2.2. Lego Case Study

Lego is one of the top five leading toy industry manufacturers with 5% of the market [41]. Lego’s signature toy is manufactured to exacting specifications from ABS, a common consumer polymer. In a past study, on average, a single Lego piece costs $0.104 USD, and the average cost of a Lego set without pieces, thereby the cost of the box and printed instructions, is $7.34 [42]. It should be pointed out that, in consideration of their larger size intended for small children, Duplo blocks and thus Duplo sets are more expensive at $0.63 per brick. When grouped into themes, it was found that Lego city-themed and architecture-themed sets had the lowest base cost while Marvel-themed sets had a base cost of $3.61 per piece [42].
The study by Allain is expanded here to look at the cost per block in the 10 most popular Lego kits at Wal-Mart. The cost to print a 3 × 2 block is then determined. The 3D printed blocks are then tested and compared to Lego blocks and generic Lego-compatible commercial blocks on a quality and price basis.

2.2.3. Board Game Comparison

The hobby games market is more than US$1.2 billion, with the hobby game board market having grown 56% from $160 million in 2014 to $250 million in 2015 [43]. ICv2 CEO Milton Griepp has claimed that there is often a transition from digital games to tabletop games when users are more interested in face-to-face interaction [44]. The global board games market is expected to experience a 29% growth over the period from 2017 to 2021, largely due to increased popularity amongst the adult consumer demographic [45]. Three market trends—the growth of organized retail, increase in projects funded through crowdsourcing, and game evolution with time—have been cited as driving forces behind this projected growth. Here again, 3D printing can be used to manufacture board games at home. Technavio points out that 3D printing have been shown to boost the sales of board games [45]. To demonstrate the feasibility and compare the costs to a traditional board game, an open source game, ‘Save the planet’ board game hosted on Appropedia [46] has been selected. The costs to commercially print out the board and the cards is quantified from a professional print shop and compared to 2D printing on paper by a home printer. Then, the costs for the dice and four player pieces are determined by printing and weighing on a digital scale (±0.1 g) and assuming filament costs from above. These costs are compared to the top ten board games by sales on Amazon [47].

3. Results and Discussion

3.1. Downloaded Value

3.1.1. Microeconomic Advantages of Home Manufacturing

When the cost was calculated for each designed item printed with each of the filaments as described in the Methods section, the recyclebot-produced filament proved to demonstrate the greatest savings for the user. By using an at-home recyclebot or extruder-produced pellets, printing costs can be significantly reduced, and even using more expensive filament found on Amazon demonstrates savings when compared to equivalent, commercially available products. Table 2 shows the cost of each design printed in each of the three filaments as well as the cost of the commercially available product equivalent. On average, printing the items in Amazon filament cost $9.28 while printing in pellets and recyclebot filament cost on average $2.59 and $1.31, respectively. Table 2 shows a clear financial advantage to the consumer in printing items as opposed to purchasing them as shown by the printing cost with recyclebot filament costing on average a mere 3.09% of the cost to purchase. Even when compared to the more expensive Amazon filament, printing costs, on average, only 22% of the cost to purchase. It should also be noted here (and is shown in Section 3.3) that for applications such as toys there is not a noticeable tradeoff between quality and cost of filament. A tuned recyclebot can produce filament with equivalent visual quality to commercial filament.
Table 3 shows the cost and percent savings calculated for each design in each of the three filament types when compared to their respective commercially available alternative products. As expected based on the results in Table 2, printed items using recyclebot-made filament saved the user significantly more money than printed items using commercial or pellet filament; however, each of the three filament types on average saved the user over 50% of the cost of commercially available alternative toys. When items that cost more to print than purchase were removed, the average cost and percent savings were nearly 75% when using commercial filament and over 90% for pellet-extruded filament and recyclebot filament.
Upon review, the items that cost more to print than to purchase (e.g., potentially lost the user money) when compared to commercially available and comparable products were often of noticeably higher value. For example, in Figure 1, the Game of Thrones inspired dice cup shown rendered in Cura is not commercially available but was compared to simple dice cups.
The majority of the items that cost more to print than to purchase were specialized cosplay items. The term “cosplay” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2008 as “the practice of dressing up as a character from a film, book, or video game, especially one from the Japanese genres of manga or anime” [48]. The appeal of cosplay is largely the expression of individualism within a shared community [49]. Not only does at-home additive manufacturing grant individual users the power to design and build completely customized items, but repositories such as MyMiniFactory provide an outlet for users to share designs and inspire one another in their creativity. Items in this study that did not save the user money when printed in all filaments such as the Voltron figure had dozens of specially designed parts that together made up a customized product of arguably significantly higher quality than the simple commercial alternative.
In addition, 6% of designs had no commercially available alternative either on nor offered by individual makers. Many of these were highly detailed cosplay items that came from specific games. While a cost saving could not be calculated, these items only highlight 3D printing’s ability to allow users unlimited creativity in their work, and MyMiniFactory’s data for these designs’ downloads prove that these items are highly desired by the 3D printing and cosplaying community. Figure 2 shows the average percent savings of the cumulative designs with commercially available alternative elements based on the filaments used to print the items. Items printed with recyclebot-made filament demonstrated the greatest percent savings at 93% when all items were considered and 97% when only items that saved the user money were considered. It is clear that using recycled waste plastic would save consumers more than 90% of the costs of the conventionally-manufactured cost regardless of the circumstances. As 3D printing continues to become a more widely spread at-home activity and investment, filament technology may progress such that many users will utilize waste plastic as opposed to commercially available filament. Given the multi-billion status that is the toy industry, consumers may begin printing toys, games and specialty items in mass, saving substantial amounts of money in comparison to commercially available products.

3.1.2. Macroeconomic Impact of Home Manufacturing

The total results from Table 3 are the most striking. Over a single month period, MyMiniFactory saved its users more than $5 million in avoided consumer purchases for only the top 100 downloaded designs. This assumes filament costs $20/kg or less, which is a reasonable assumption as the most popular filament is $23/kg and there are many commercial suppliers (even available on Amazon) that are selling filament for less than $20/kg as well as the much lower costs observed with pellet extruded filament or recyclebot manufactured filament. Extrapolated over a year, these results indicate that MyMiniFactory, just a single 3D printing repository among dozens, is saving consumers over $60 million a year in offset purchases. Again, this value is conservative as many of the designs discarded from the analysis here would be more (not less) expensive to acquire commercially. In addition, this only considers 100 designs. MyMiniFactory currently has 26,355 published designs as of 30 April 2017 so this study only looked at 0.38%. In addition, this represents, but a small fraction of the overall freely available designs, which is at least several million [21].
It can be safely concluded that the open source 3D printing community is already having more than $100 million/year on the toy and game market. As the microeconomic savings are significant for individual consumers and the number of desktop 3D printer users continues to climb, this impact can be expected to grow.

3.2. Six Example Printable Toys

Although the toys can be made for less than purchased commercially, they may not be of the same value. Figure 3 shows the visual results of six common household toys to probe this effect. The free design 3D printable version is shown on the left and the commercial version in shown on the right. First, the mini travel chess set available from the largest online retailer, Amazon, results in a 90% savings if 3D printed. The color difference actually provides a visual advantage to 3D printing. Although it should be pointed out that identical (or different) color schemes could be enabled simply by using different colors of plastic filament for the different components of a toy. For those that find the wood more aesthetically appealing, there is already a wide range of wood filaments on the market and other biocomposites [50], and recent work indicates that even wood waste can be converted to 3D printer filament [51]. Home manufacturing of toys is also more economic when compared to a dedicated toy seller like ToysRUs. The shape puzzle available from ToysRUs results in a 88% savings and the toy truck 79% savings. In both cases, the commercial versions have a higher degree of color variance than shown, but this could be overcome by using more colors of filament and/or changing filaments during a single print. For more complex toys, like the action figures, 3D printing still results in a savings, although lower (e.g., 41%) values. In addition to mass manufactured toys, wood toys made available on sites like Etsy can also be replaced with distributed manufacturing using 3D printing with substantial cost savings. For example, the wood puzzle star available on Etsy can be 3D printed for 82% savings as can the math spinner toy for 90% savings. It should be noted here that the relative cost savings can be heavily influenced not only by the filament selection but also the infill percentage. For example, when comparing 3D printed toys to wood based objects, the environmental impact can be lower when low infill settings are used, and, in general for non-solid plastic products, 3D printed ones have a lower impact than conventionally manufactured ones [52,53].
Making a more careful comparison of some of the example toys shown in Figure 3, it is clear that these toys both appear and are actually different than the commercial counterparts (e.g., design, shape, and color) although the functionality (e.g., play) is similar or identical. The difference is perhaps most stark with the action figure (e.g., Captain America vs. BloodShot). There is currently no equivalent quality BloodShot action figure and the intellectual property surrounding the example is owned by Valliant Comics. The play with either action figure is identical (or nearly identical as super powers for both comic book characters arose from former soldiers being injected with super solider formula and nanites, respectively). However, a specific branded toy has a value to the consumer. This value can be acquired by the consumer by customizing the toy to fit their need (e.g., add minor changes to the existing action figure and/or repaint it) as well as print accessories such as a Captain America shield, which is already available on MyMiniFactory. The intellectual property concerns of home manufacturers doing such modifications are left for future work.

3.3. Lego Analysis

Lego is well known in the open source maker community (e.g., commons based peer production using a Lego-built 3D printing/Milling machine [54]). There are already hundreds of Lego designs available and customized OpenSCAD code generators for various Lego-compatible blocks. As can be seen in Figure 4, it is possible to fabricate Lego compatible bricks for less money than purchasing them with any type of ABS filament. It should be noted that the fit of the Lego blocks are superior to the generic compatible block and all of the 3D printed blocks on their first run. The fit of the 3D printed blocks, however, can be adjusted by the individual consumer to make blocks easier to disassemble (e.g., for weaker hands) or tighter (e.g., to make more permanent structures). The quality of the 3D printed parts can also be a key determinant in demand. Care must be taken by home toy manufacturers to ensure both the polymer used as well as the infill is appropriate for the toy being fabricated. In addition, there are some inherent limitations on the visual quality of FFF 3D printed parts. As can be seen in Figure 4, for the three unsmoothed 3D printed blocks lines can be observed on the z-axis. However, if this is important to the home user, ABS can be smoothed (bottom right block in Figure 4) with acetone, rendering a block very close to the visual quality of the generic block and removing print lines. In addition, 3D printed blocks can be made that are not available from Lego as shown as the example of the Lego to Lincoln Logs adapter blocks rendered by Cura [55] in Figure 5. It should be noted that several runs may be needed by the home manufacturer of Lego compatible blocks to obtain an ideal fit for the users, which would contributed to higher costs, although to a small degree. For example, it might take five tries to get the perfect fit, but then the settings could be used to print out a standard set of 1000 blocks so the trials needed would represent a minor loss and cost (e.g., 0.5%). For many other toys, such careful tolerances are not necessary.
2 × 3 3D printed Lego compatible blocks have a mass of 2.5 g. To provide a fair comparison to a commercially available Lego-compatible generic brick set [56], the costs of fabricating 1000 2 × 3 Lego compatible bricks is shown with the various sources shown in Figure 6. In reviewing the top 10 most popular Lego sets on, it was found that the average cost per piece was $0.075. The average cost for these kits on was $74.82 with simple Lego blocks costing $60.00. Generic building blocks cost less at $29.99 [56]. When estimating the cost using 3D printed blocks, a comparable kit printed with commercial filament would cost $57.50. A kit printed from pellets would cost $13.75 and one printed from recyclebot-made filament would cost only $5.40. In consideration of Wired’s cost estimate of a single Lego brick [42], a 1000-piece kit would cost $104, nearly double that of the kit printed with the more expensive commercial filament. Interestingly, with the cost of RepRap 3D printer kits now breaking the $100 cost barrier (the Startt 3D printer from iMakr (London, England) is currently selling for $99.99) [57], only roughly two sets of Legos need to be printed with pellet-made filament to recover the cost of the 3D printer. However, it should be noted that such kits still require substantial technical competence from the consumer.

3.4. Board Game

Save the Planet Board Game is a free and open-source DIY cooperative board game [46] shown in Figure 7. In the game, players work together to save the planet to win the game while learning how to save the planet in real life. Users must 2D print out the game board and card decks for the beginner and advanced options, respectively. This can be done on 8 × 11 inch office paper (4 × 11 cents/page is 44 cents) and laminated to be glued to cereal boxes or printed directly on cardstock (1 × 69 cents) so the total 2D printing cost is $1.13. The beginner option has game pieces for simple acts of environmental benefit and is appropriate for children 4 and up and the advanced option is for teens and adults interested in more scalable impact. This game is open-source so like the RepRap, users are encouraged to build on it—make it better, add more “good deeds”, make a local deed list and make more advanced derivatives.
The following needs to be printed (summarized in Table 4): a card holder, dice and four mini-figures. The mini-figurines are completely up to the interests of the user and, with thousands of designs to choose from, enable some creativity of the user. There is also some flexibility in the size of the figures that will affect the cost and found items (e.g., a small stone) could reduce the cost of the figures to zero but is of lower value. Here, in order to demonstrate the range of options a fox, The Thinker at the Musée Rodin France, a figurine from another open board game, and a superman bust are used.
The top 10 best-selling board games on Amazon as of 3 May 2017 averaged in price at $18.18 with a range of $23.22, where the most expensive game was $31.99 and the least expensive was $8.77 [47]. The 3D and 2D printed components, source and cost of Save the Planet Board Game costs less than $3 as shown in Table 4, representing a 67%–91% savings. However, in this case, it is not an apple to apple comparison for identical games, which would come with a risk of intellectual property infringement. Instead, this analysis was for comparing a custom board game (with potentially greater value) to a generic board game. The closest analog of the example game is A Beautiful Place that costs $16.49 on Amazon and is significantly less sophisticated, although similar in game play.
Already, many custom games are available in the open source community that have identical game play to conventionally manufactured and sold games, but are superior in some way. For example, many conventionally-manufactured BattleShip games are available on the market in the general price range of the most popular board games. All of them have relatively simple injection molded ships. A 3D printable game has been developed (battlefleet-star-wars-vs-star-trek-33840), which has identical game play but uses fan art mockups of Star Wars and Star Trek ships. The printed game also comes in 3D printable carrying cases for easy mobile play and is potentially of greater value than the Battleship games on the market for Star Wars/Star Trek fans.

3.5. Discussion

As the use of 3D printing has shifted from rapid prototyping in industry to production [58], research has shown DIY in-home manufacturing could easily justify the capital costs of a 3D printer with consumer items [21], and this study shows that even when a home printer is focused on making only games and toys, it is clear consumers can generate higher value items for less money than is currently available commercially. It should be pointed out here that these conclusions are in general conservative as this study focused only on relatively simple toys and games that required minimal assembly. Coupling open-source electronics to 3D printed toys (e.g., Arduino-driven 3D printable quad copters and VR headsets) enables far more sophisticated toys with higher values to be produced in the home. One area where this study was not conservative was in the estimation of failed print waste. Here, it was assumed to be zero as in the vast majority of cases printing a known 3D printable part (e.g., guaranteed 3D printable by MyMiniFactory) on an auto-calibrating/bed-leveling 3D printer (e.g., Lulzbot Taz or Mini) nearly always results in a successful print. This is not always the case, as a previous study using a home-built RepRap 3D printer estimated a 20% failure rate [20]. It should be noted, however, that this is only the case on the first prints from an inexperienced user on a much less sophisticated RepRap than are currently available to build, purchase assembled or buy in kit form. Future work could provide a more robust estimate of print failure rates by studying a large group of home 3D printer users.
3D printing gives consumers the unique ability to relatively easily fabricate products only for themselves, which may disrupt manufacturing in a wide array of markets [59,60,61]. Rifkin argues distributed manufacturing with 3D printers can lead to a zero marginal cost society [62]. It is unclear if the inconvenience of 3D printing yourself will not overcome the convenience of producing exceptionally low cost but high value bespoke products in one’s own home; however, it is clear that it will have an impact on global value chains [63,64]. There have been a number of studies concluding that 3D printing will continue to have an increased impact on society [65,66] both in the developed and developing world [67,68]. It is clear that 3D printing will play a major role in the rapidly emerging business models based on open source hardware [69] and open innovation [70]. In addition, even the humble toys here can have added value in the context of medicine when used as therapeutic aides (e.g., magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) visual demonstration tool [71]). Future open-source toy designs can also begin to take advantage of printing [72] or home milling electronic components [73], multimaterials [73,74] and 4D printing smart materials [75] to increase the toy complexity and playability. As the complexity increases, methods will be needed to ensure that such home manufactured toys meet known standards. Work in this area has already commenced [76]. In addition, there has been significant efforts targeting quality control for low-cost FFF 3D printers both informally [77,78,79] and formally [80,81,82] to enable real-time control, which when widespread will only enhance the conclusions in this study.
Future work is needed in both the technical areas to continue to reduce costs and improve reliability of open source 3D printers as well as to expand the economic analysis presented in this study. Future work can probe the time needed to design toys using open source software to determine ROIs for designers. In addition, more granular values can be obtained by doing sensitivity analysis on 3D printer user time for setting up a print and on routine maintenance (as well as associated costs). Future work is also needed to quantify the value to the prosumer of making his or her own toys. In this study, the value of the assembly time was considered to be zero as most of the toys were relatively simple to assemble. However, for more complex toys, there would be a time investment. Normal manufacturing considers this assembly time a cost, while, in this case, the assembly may be treated as part of the value of the toy itself in the same way that assembling a Lego kit is part of the game play. Finally, further work is needed to address the quality of recycling plastic for filament. This study showed that the largest savings could be found for distributed home manufacturing for products using recycled waste plastic filament. However, each time a thermoplastic is recycled, the mechanical properties are degraded. Cruz et al. have begun to investigate this phenomena’s impact on open source 3D printing [83], but considerably more work is needed in the area over the complete array of polymers used in FFF.
With both the continued decrease in the cost of open source 3D printers and 3D printing filament along with the increase in the number and quality of free designs, it appears clear that consumer DIY manufacturing in the home [84] is set to have a significant impact on the toy and game markets in the future.

4. Conclusions

This study quantified the savings for consumers that utilize free and open source designs with a desktop fused filament 3D printer to fabricate their own toys and games. The cost of the filament was the largest variable controlling savings per product; however, each of the three filament types analyzed here on average saved the user over 75% of the cost of commercially available true alternative toys and over 90% for pellet-extruded filament and recyclebot-made filament. The reduced visual quality (e.g., 3D printer lines) was offset when compared to commercially available and comparable products because the 3D printable version could contain customization and increased complexity that created noticeably higher value for consumers. Over a single month period, MyMiniFactory saved its users more than $5 million in avoided consumer purchases for only the top 100 downloaded designs. These results indicate that MyMiniFactory, just a single 3D printing repository among dozens, is saving consumers well over $60 million a year in offset purchases. The specific case studies found that most common toy savings fell: 40%–90% in cost savings when using the most expensive filament. These cost savings came with ability to make never before seen toys. For example, although the cost of Lego blocks could be cut from 6 cents/block to about 0.5 cents per block using recycled filament, the real strength of 3D printing blocks is to make exactly what the consumer wants Lego compatible. Professional looking games fostering more creativity, customization and in-depth thought of the consumer can also be manufactured at home for a small fraction of purchasing them directly. The results of this study make it clear that consumers can generate higher value items for less money using an open source distributed manufacturing paradigm. With both the continued decrease in the cost of open source 3D printers and 3D printing filament along with the increase in the number and quality of free and open source designs, it appears clear that consumer DIY manufacturing is set to have a significant impact on the toy and game markets in the future.


The authors would like to thank MyMiniFactory for supplying data.

Author Contributions

Joshua M. Pearce conceived and designed the study; Romain W. Kidd and Emily E. Petersen performed the data collection; Romain W. Kidd contributed data and Joshua M. Pearce contributed analysis tools; and all authors analyzed the data and wrote the paper. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Acronyms and Symbols

ABSacrylonitrile butadiene styrene
AMadditive manufacturing
CCcost of the commercially available product USD
CEaverage rate of electricity in the United States in USD/kWh
CFcost of a given filament in USD/kg
Csmarginal savings on each project USD
Eenergy consumed in kWh
FFFfused filament fabrication
mfmass of the filament in grams
Ndnumber of downloads
OLoperating cost
Pmarginal percent change between the cost to print a product and the commercially available product
PLApoly lactic acid
RepRapself-REPlicating RAPid prototyper 3D printer
VD(t)downloaded substitution valuation USD


  1. Sells, E.; Bailard, S.; Smith, Z.; Bowyer, A.; Olliver, V. RepRap: The Replicating Rapid Prototyper-Maximizing Customizability by Breeding the Means of Production. In Proceedings of the World Conference on Mass Customization and Personalization, Cambridge, MA, USA, 7–10 October 2007. [Google Scholar]
  2. Jones, R.; Haufe, P.; Sells, E.; Iravani, P.; Olliver, V.; Palmer, C.; Bowyer, A. RepRap-the Replicating Rapid Prototyper. Robotica 2011, 29, 177–191. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  3. Bowyer, A. 3D Printing and Humanity’s First Imperfect Replicator. 3D Print. Addit. Manuf. 2014, 1, 4–5. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  4. Gibb, A.; Abadie, S. Building Open Source Hardware: DIY Manufacturing for Hackers and Makers, 1st ed.; Addison-Wesley Professional: Boston, MA, USA, 2014. [Google Scholar]
  5. Rundle, G. A Revolution in the Making; Simon and Schuster: New York, NY, USA, 2014. [Google Scholar]
  6. Wohlers, T. Wohlers Report 2016: 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing State of the Industry Annual Worldwide Progress Report; Wohlers Associates Inc.: Fort Collins, CO, USA, 2016. [Google Scholar]
  7. Frauenfelder, M. Make: Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing 2014: Maker Media; O’Reilly Inc.: Sebastopol, CA, USA, 2013. [Google Scholar]
  8. Moilanen, J.; Vaden, T. 3D Printing Community and Emerging Practices of Peer Production. First Monday 2013. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  9. Pearce, J.M. Building Research Equipment with Free, Open-Source Hardware. Science 2012, 337, 1303–1304. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  10. Pearce, J. Open-Source Lab: How to Build Your Own Hardware and Reduce Research Costs, 1st ed.; Elsevier: Waltham, MA, USA, 2014. [Google Scholar]
  11. Baden, T.; Chagas, A.; Marzullo, T.; Prieto-Godino, L.; Euler, T. Open Laware: 3-D Printing Your Own Lab Equipment. PLoS Biol. 2015, 13, e1002086. [Google Scholar]
  12. Coakley, M.; Hurt, D.E. 3D Printing in the Laboratory Maximize Time and Funds with Customized and Open-Source Labware. J. Lab. Autom. 2016, 21, 489–495. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  13. Kentzer, J.; Koch, B.; Thiim, M.; Jones, R.W.; Villumsen, E.; May. An Open Source Hardware-Based Mechatronics Project: The Replicating Rapid 3-D Printer. In Proceedings of the 2011 4th International Conference on Mechatronics, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 17­–19 May 2011; pp. 1–8. [Google Scholar]
  14. Irwin, J.L.; Oppliger, D.E.; Pearce, J.M.; Anzalone, G. Evaluation of RepRap 3D Printer Workshops in K-12 STEM. In Proceedings of the 122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Seattle, MA, USA, 14–17 June 2015. [Google Scholar]
  15. Gonzalez-Gomez, J.; Valero-Gomez, A.; Prieto-Moreno, A.; Abderrahim, M. A new open source 3d-printable mobile robotic platform for education. In Advances in Autonomous Mini Robots; Springer: Berlin/Heidelberg, Germany, 2012; pp. 49–62. [Google Scholar]
  16. Grujović, N.; Radović, M.; Kanjevac, V.; Borota, J.; Grujović, G.; Divac, D. 3D Printing Technology in Education Environment. In Proceedings of the 34th International Conference on Production Engineering, Nis, Serbia, 28–30 September 2011; pp. 29–30. [Google Scholar]
  17. Schelly, C.; Anzalone, G.; Wijnen, B.; Pearce, J.M. Open-source 3-D printing technologies for education: Bringing additive manufacturing to the classroom. J. Visual Lang. Comput. 2015, 28, 226–237. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  18. Pearce, J.M.; Blair, C.; Laciak, K.J.; Andrews, R.; Nosrat, A.; Zelenika-Zovko, I. 3-D Printing of Open Source Appropriate Technologies for Self-Directed Sustainable Development. J. Sustain. Dev. 2010, 3, 17–29. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  19. Birtchnell, T.; Hoyle, W. 3D Printing for Development in the Global South: The 3D4D Challenge; Springer: Berlin, Germany, 2014. [Google Scholar]
  20. Wittbrodt, B.; Glover, A.; Laureto, J.; Anzalone, G.; Oppliger, D.; Irwin, J.; Pearce, J. Life-Cycle Economic Analysis of Distributed Manufacturing with Open-Source 3-D Printers. Mechatronics 2013, 23, 713–726. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  21. Petersen, E.; Pearce, J. Emergence of Home Manufacturing in the Developed World: Return on Investment for Open-Source 3-D Printers. Technologies 2017, 5, 7. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  22. Kelleher, K. Was 3D Printing Just a Passing Fad? Time 2015. Available online: (accessed on 10 June 2015).
  23. Bilton, R. 3D Printing Is a Gimmick, Says Foxconn Prez (and He’s Sorta Right). 2013. Available online: (accessed on 1 July 2017).
  24. Statistica. Average Amount Spent per Child on Toys by Country in 2013 (in U.S. Dollars). Available online: (accessed on 1 July 2017).
  25. Brandongaille. 23 Toy Industry Statistics and Trends. 2013. Available online: (accessed on 1 July 2017).
  26. Toy Association. Annual U.S. Sales Data. Available online:–4caf-8bc1–72b99567df1e#.WQqVLYjys2w (accessed on 1 July 2017).
  27. Global Industry Analysts, Inc. Press Release: Toys and Games—A Global Strategic Business Report. 2015. Available online: (accessed on 1 July 2017).
  28. LEGO: We Will Continue To Dominate The Global Toy Market. 2014. Available online:–2 (accessed on 1 July 2017).
  29. Ultimaker. Software—All platforms. Available online: (accessed on 1 July 2017).
  30. Chilson, L. The Difference between ABS and PLA for 3D Printing. ProtoParadigm 2013. Available online: (accessed on 1 July 2017).
  31. Stephens, B.; Azimi, P.; El Orch, Z.; Ramos, T. Ultrafine Particle Emissions from Desktop 3D Printers. Atmos. Environ. 2013, 79, 334–339. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  32. Tokiwa, Y.; Calabia, B.; Ugwu, C.; Aiba, S. Biodegradability of Plastics. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2009, 10, 3722–3742. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  33. Hoffman, T. LulzBot Mini 3D Printer. PCMAG. 2015. Available online:,2817,2476575,00.asp (accessed on 1 July 2017).
  34. U.S. Energy Information Administration Independent Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO). Available online: (accessed on 1 July 2017).
  35. Amazon Hatchbox 3D PLA-1kg 3.00-BLK PLA 3D Printer filament Dimensional Accuracy ±0.05 Mm, 1 Kg Spool, 3.00 Mm, Black. Available online:–00-BLK-Filament-Dimensional/dp/B00MEZE7XU (accessed on 1 July 2017).
  36. Alibaba. PLA plastic pellets. Available online: (accessed on 16 May 2017).
  37. Baechler, C.; DeVuono, M.; Pearce, J.M. Distributed Recycling of Waste Polymer into RepRap Feedstock. Rapid Prototyp. J. 2013, 19, 118–125. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  38. Zhong, S.L.; Pearce, J.M. Tightening the Loop on the Circular Economy: Coupled Distributed Recycling and Manufacturing with Recyclebot and RepRap 3-D Printing. to be published.
  39. Pearce, J. Quantifying the Value of Open Source Hardware Development. Mod. Econ. 2015, 6, 1–11. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  40. Pearce, J.M. Return on investment for open source scientific hardware development. Sci. Public Policy 2016, 43, 192–195. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  41. Wang, Z. Mattell: Buy the Toys While They’re on Sale. 2015. Available online: (accessed on 1 July 2017).
  42. Allain, R. How Much Does One Lego Piece Cost? 2014. Available online: (accessed on 1 July 2017).
  43. Griepp, M. Hobby Games Market Nearly $1.2 Billion. ICv2. 2016. Available online:–2-billion (accessed on 1 July 2017).
  44. Wong, J.I. Old-fashioned board games, not tech, are attracting the most money on Kickstarter. 2016. Available online: (accessed on 1 July 2017).
  45. Business Wire. Top 3 Trends Impacting the Global Board Games Market Through 2021: Technavio. 2016. Available online: (accessed on 1 July 2017).
  46. Appropedia. Save the Planet Board Game. Available online: (accessed on 1 July 2017).
  47. Amazon Best Sellers. Board Games. Available online: (accessed on 3 May 2017).
  48. English Oxford Living Dictionaries- Cosplay. Available online: (accessed on 4 May 2017).
  49. Seregina, A.; Weijo, H. Play at Any Cost: How Cosplayers Produce and Sustain Their Ludic Communal Consumption Experiences. J. Consum. Res. 2017, 44, 139–159. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  50. Le Duigou, A.; Castro, M.; Bevan, R.; Martin, N. 3D printing of wood fibre biocomposites: From mechanical to actuation functionality. Mater. Des. 2016, 96, 106–114. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  51. Rudnicki, M.; Pringle, A.M.; Pearce, J.M. Viability of Up-Cycling Wood Furniture Waste to 3-D Printing Filament. In Advancements in Fiber-Polymer Composites Symposium; 2017; in press. [Google Scholar]
  52. Kreiger, M.; Pearce, J.M. Environmental impacts of distributed manufacturing from 3-D printing of polymer components and products. In MRS Proceedings; Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK, 2013; Volume 1492, pp. 85–90. [Google Scholar]
  53. Kreiger, M.; Pearce, J.M. Environmental life cycle analysis of distributed three-dimensional printing and conventional manufacturing of polymer products. ACS Sustain. Chem. Eng. 2013, 1, 1511–1519. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  54. Kostakis, V.; Papachristou, M. Commons-based peer production and digital fabrication: The case of a RepRap-based, Lego-built 3D printing-milling machine. Telemat. Inf. 2014, 31, 434–443. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  55. Adapterz LLC. Lego to Lincoln Logs. Available online: (accessed on 5 May 2017).
  56. Amazon. Building Bricks 0 Regular Colors—1000 Pieces—Compatible with All Major Brands. Available online: (accessed on 1 July 2017).
  57. STARTT 3D Printer. Available online: (accessed on 1 July 2017).
  58. Bak, D. Rapid prototyping or rapid production? 3D printing processes move industry towards the latter. Assem. Autom. 2003, 23, 340–345. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  59. Petrick, I.J.; Simpson, T.W. 3D printing disrupts manufacturing: How economies of one create new rules of competition. Res.-Technol. Manag. 2013, 56, 12–16. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  60. Berman, B. 3-D printing: The new industrial revolution. Bus. Horiz. 2012, 55, 155–162. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  61. Kietzmann, J.; Pitt, L.; Berthon, P. Disruptions, decisions, and destinations: Enter the age of 3-D printing and additive manufacturing. Bus. Horiz. 2015, 58, 209–215. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  62. Rifkin, J. The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism; Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke, UK, 2014. [Google Scholar]
  63. Laplume, A.O.; Petersen, B.; Pearce, J.M. Global value chains from a 3D printing perspective. J. Int. Bus. Stud. 2016, 47, 595–609. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  64. Rehnberg, M.; Pointe, S. 3D Printing and Global Value Chains: How a New Technology May Restructure Global Production; Global Production Networks Centre: Singapore, 2016; GPN2016-010; Available online: (accessed on 1 July 2017).
  65. Pîrjan, A.; Petrosanu, D.M. The Impact of 3D Printing Technology on the Society and Economy. J. Inf. Syst. Oper. Manag. 2013. Available online: (accessed on 7 July 2017).
  66. Thiesse, F.; Wirth, M.; Kemper, H.G.; Moisa, M.; Morar, D.; Lasi, H.; Piller, F.; Buxmann, P.; Mortara, L.; Ford, S.; Minshall, T. Economic Implications of Additive Manufacturing and the Contribution of MIS. Bus. Inf. Syst. Eng. 2015, 57, 139. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  67. Aitken-Palmer, W. A Market-Based Approach to 3d Printing for Economic Development in Ghana. Master’s Thesis, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI, USA, 2015. [Google Scholar]
  68. Pearce, J.M. Applications of open source 3-D printing on small farms. Org. Farming 2015, 1, 19–35. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  69. Pearce, J.M. Emerging Business Models for Open Source Hardware. J. Open Hardw. 2017, 1, 2. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  70. Reed, R.; Storrud-Barnes, S.; Jessup, L. How open innovation affects the drivers of competitive advantage: Trading the benefits of IP creation and ownership for free invention. Manag. Decis. 2012, 50, 58–73. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  71. Peh, Z.K.; Yap, Y.L.; Yeong, W.Y.; Liow, H.H. Application of 3D printed medical aid for pediatric cancer patients. In Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Progress in Additive Manufacturing, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, 16–19 May 2016; pp. 49–54. [Google Scholar]
  72. Saengchairat, N.; Tran, T.; Chua, C.K. A review: Additive manufacturing for active electronic components. Virtual Phys. Prototyp. 2017, 12, 31–46. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  73. Anzalone, G.C.; Wijnen, B.; Pearce, J.M. Multi-material additive and subtractive prosumer digital fabrication with a free and open-source convertible delta RepRap 3-D printer. Rapid Prototyp. J. 2015, 21, 506–519. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  74. Vidimče, K.; Wang, S.P.; Ragan-Kelley, J.; Matusik, W. OpenFab: A programmable pipeline for multi-material fabrication. ACM Trans. Graph. 2013, 32, 136. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  75. Khoo, Z.X.; Teoh, J.E.M.; Liu, Y.; Chua, C.K.; Yang, S.; An, J.; Leong, K.F.; Yeong, W.Y. 3D printing of smart materials: A review on recent progresses in 4D printing. Virtual Phys. Prototyp. 2015, 10, 103–122. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  76. Cruz Sanchez, F.A.; Boudaoud, H.; Muller, L.; Camargo, M. Towards a standard experimental protocol for open source additive manufacturing: This paper proposes a benchmarking model for evaluating accuracy performance of 3D printers. Virtual Phys. Prototyp. 2014, 9, 151–167. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  77. Gewirtz, D. Adding a Raspberry Pi Case and a Camera to Your LulzBot Mini—Watch Video Online—Watch Latest Ultra HD 4K Videos Online. 2016. Available online: (accessed on 30 November 2016).
  78. Printer3D. Free IP Camera Monitoring for 3D Printer with Old Webcam usb in 5min—3D Printers English French & FAQ Wanhao Duplicator D6 Monoprice Maker Ultimate & D4, D5, Duplicator 7, 2017. Available online: (accessed on 18 March 2017).
  79. Simon, J. Monitoring Your 3D Prints|3D Universe. 2017. Available online: (accessed on 18 March 2017).
  80. Nuchitprasitchai, S.; Roggemann, M.; Pearce, J. Factors Effecting Real Time Optical Monitoring of Fused Filament 3-D Printing. Prog. Addit. Manuf. 2017, 1–17. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  81. Nuchitprasitchai, S.; Roggemann, M.; Pearce, J. Three Hundred and Sixty Degree Real-Time Monitoring of 3-D Printing Using Computer Analysis of Two Camera Views. J. Manuf. Mater. Process. 2017, 1, 2. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  82. Nuchitprasitchai, S.; Roggemann, M.; Pearce, J. An Open Source Algorithm for Reconstruction 3-D images for Low-cost, Reliable Real-time Monitoring of FFF-based 3-D Printing. to be published.
  83. Cruz, F.; Lanza, S.; Boudaoud, H.; Hoppe, S.; Camargo, M. Polymer Recycling and Additive Manufacturing in an Open Source context: Optimization of Processes and Methods. In Proceedings of the 2015 Annual International Solid Freeform Fabrication Symposium-An Additive Manufacturing Conference, Austin, TX, USA, 7–9 August 2015; pp. 10–12. [Google Scholar]
  84. Rayna, T.; Striukova, L. From rapid prototyping to home fabrication: How 3D printing is changing business model innovation. Technol. Forecast. Soc. Chang. 2016, 102, 214–224. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
Figure 1. Cura rendering of details of freely available design of a Game of Thrones dice cup.
Figure 1. Cura rendering of details of freely available design of a Game of Thrones dice cup.
Technologies 05 00045 g001
Figure 2. Bar chart showing the percent savings of printing designs with various filament types.
Figure 2. Bar chart showing the percent savings of printing designs with various filament types.
Technologies 05 00045 g002
Figure 3. Visual comparison of open source 3D printed toys and their commercial mass manufactured equivalents. Costs and percent savings are shown for each toy.
Figure 3. Visual comparison of open source 3D printed toys and their commercial mass manufactured equivalents. Costs and percent savings are shown for each toy.
Technologies 05 00045 g003aTechnologies 05 00045 g003b
Figure 4. Photograph of 2 × 3 toy bricks: Lego brick, Lego-compatible generic brick, 3D printed commercial ABS and 3D printed recycled acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) bothnatural and acetone smoothed with costs.
Figure 4. Photograph of 2 × 3 toy bricks: Lego brick, Lego-compatible generic brick, 3D printed commercial ABS and 3D printed recycled acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) bothnatural and acetone smoothed with costs.
Technologies 05 00045 g004
Figure 5. Adapterz LLC free design of a Lego to Lincoln Log adapter [55] shown in Cura.
Figure 5. Adapterz LLC free design of a Lego to Lincoln Log adapter [55] shown in Cura.
Technologies 05 00045 g005
Figure 6. The costs of fabricating 1000 2 × 3 Lego compatible bricks or purchasing.
Figure 6. The costs of fabricating 1000 2 × 3 Lego compatible bricks or purchasing.
Technologies 05 00045 g006
Figure 7. Open-source fully 2D and 3D printable do-it-yourself (DIY) cooperative Save the Planet Board Game in mid-play.
Figure 7. Open-source fully 2D and 3D printable do-it-yourself (DIY) cooperative Save the Planet Board Game in mid-play.
Technologies 05 00045 g007
Table 1. Most popular designs downloaded on MyMiniFactory in January 2017.
Table 1. Most popular designs downloaded on MyMiniFactory in January 2017.
Open Source 3D Printed DesignURL (
Pokemon Go aimerpokeball-aimer-pokemon-go-2300920583
Clash of Clans barbarianbarbarian-lv-1-clash-of-clans-8588107
Voltron figurevoltron-defender-of-the-universe-224303881
Overwatch tracer guntracer-gun-overwatch-190113602
Overwatch reaper maskreaper-mask-190043457
Overwatch McCree revolverupdated-mccree-revolver-by-jeff-lagant-not-me-195433303
Star Wars AT-ATdetailed-at-at-176063218
Last Word Destiny Hand Cannondestiny-last-word-exotic-hand-cannon-65463140
Overwatch D.VA Light Gund-va-s-light-gun-189203135
Overwatch Reaper Shotgunreaper-s-hellfire-shotguns-overwatch-190962943
Batman cowlbatman-cowl-205962926
Destiny Hawkmoon gundestiny-hawkmoon-exotic-hand-cannon-65452885
Destiny thorn gunthorn-from-destiny-44942846
Star Wars VII Storm Trooper Helmetstar-wars-storm-trooper-vii-fully-wearable-helmet-129922588
Kylo Ren helmetjj-industries-kylo-ren-helmet-141062451
Wall outlet shelfwall-outlet-shelf-63822350
Kylo Ren lightsaberkylo-ren-s-lightsaber-star-wars-67912347
Blade Runner blasterdeckards-blaster-blade-runner-56942337
Fallout 3 T45-d helmetfallout-3-t45-d-power-armour-helmet-152532318
Venus de Milo figurinevenus-de-milo-at-louvre-paris-16572073
Warcraft Frostmourne swordfrostmourne-from-warcraft-41561999
3DR Iris+ quadcopter3drobotics-iris-196151871
Pieta figurinepieta-in-st-peter-s-basilica-vatican-37961862
P08 Luger gunp08-luger-functional-assembly-55451798
Game of Thrones iron thronegame-of-thrones-iron-throne-19451786
The Thinker figurinethe-thinker-at-the-muse-rodin-france-21271755
Overwatch McCree Peacemaker gunmccree-peacemaker-overwatch-191521723
Fallout 4 Pipboy 3000 MkIVfallout-4-pipboy-3000-mkiv-168841705
Articulated lamparticulated-lamp-67901704
Overwatch throwing stargenji-s-shuriken-189181695
Strong boltsupport-free-bolt-12811571
Mazigner Z Super Robotmazigner-z-super-robot-245331570
Secret shelfsecret-shelf-35041564
Sombra pistolsombra-s-machine-pistol-251861544
Han Solo blasterhan-solo-s-blaster-star-wars-15461520
Overwatch D.VA headsetd-va-headset-220771502
Overwatch Mercy staffmercy-s-staff-220791484
Overwatch Mercy blastermercy-s-caduceus-blaster-189121481
Han Solo blasterhans-solo-blaster-24881461
Gears of War Chainsaw gungears-of-war-lancer-chainsaw-gun-114781437
Destiny Duke MK.44 gunduke-mk-44-hand-cannon-from-destiny-21401418
Fallout 4 Laser pistolfallout-4-laser-pistol-189781417
Overwatch loot boxoverwatch-loot-box-216701412
Cat at British Museumgayer-anderson-cat-at-the-british-museum-london-40101364
Halo 5 assault riflehalo-5-assault-rifle-117341334
Portal gunportal-gun-183421328
Destiny hawkmoon gunhawkmoon-from-destiny-full-scale-and-moving-68631327
Clash of Clans figurinep-e-k-k-a-lv-1-clash-of-clans-8571314
Harry Potter elder wanddumbledore-s-elder-wand-20571299
Groot flower potbaby-groot-flower-pot-gardens-of-the-galaxy-2-264421269
Melted Darth Vader maskdarth-vader-melted-mask-66851264
Fallout 4 10mm pistolfallout-4-10mm-pistol-104751264
Starcraft Kerrigan statuestarcraft-kerrigan-statue-104321263
Destiny ghostdestiny-ghost-60381248
Lich king figurinethe-lich-king-61741212
Micro game bitmicro-bit-game-bit-138221199
Ant Man helmetant-man-mask-wearable-53221193
Game of Thrones House emblemhouse-stark-game-of-thrones-11541182
Planetary gearsplanetary-gears-15571163
Clash of Clans king figurebarbarian-king-clash-of-clans-8711160
Tooth toothbrush holderthe-big-tooth-2-0-57591141
Halo 3 ODST helmethalo-3-odst-helmet-wearable-cosplay-176141134
Fallout 4 protectron figurefallout-4-protectron-action-figure-155851129
BFG Doombfg-213951122
Discobolus figurinediscobolus-at-the-british-museum-london-78961118
Anonymous maskguy-fawkes-anonymous-mask-25821092
Guardian of the Galaxy Star Lord maskguardians-of-the-galaxy-star-lord-s-mask-version-2-30451091
Witcher 3 wall plaquethe-witcher-3-wall-plaque-88821063
Overwatch widowmaker rifleoverwatch-widowmaker-sniper-rifle-217021029
Fallout 4 combat rifle and shotgunfallout-4-combat-rifle-and-combat-shotgun-184281025
Michelangelo’s Davidmichelangelo-s-david-in-florence-italy-20521023
Destiny ghostghost-destiny-23961022
Triceratops skulltriceratops-skull-in-colorado-usa-62251019
Skull ringskull-ring-207821014
Star Wars NN-44 Rey’s Blasterstar-wars-nl-44-reys-blaster-174221012
Joker maskjoker-mask-97431010
Fork/spoon support for disabilityfork-and-spoon-support-for-person-with-disabilities-54801007
BFG Doombfg-parts-190921006
Gryffindor coat of armsgryffindor-coat-of-arms-wall-desk-display-harry-potter-11834994
Destiny Gjallahorngjallarhorn-2-0-destiny-19160985
Pokemon figurineslow-poly-pokemon-collection-15905983
Rubik’s cube3d-printable-rubik-s-cube-9734980
Destiny bad juju pulse rifledestiny-s-bad-juju-exotic-pulse-rifle-6618977
Fallout 4 Kellogg’s pistolkellogg-s-pistol-fallout-4-21556975
Dobby the Elf figurinedobby-from-harry-potter-full-model-3294970
Statue of Liberty figurinestatue-of-liberty-in-manhatten-new-york-2077960
Minions figurinesminion-movie-trio-10140940
Destiny sleeper simulantthe-sleeper-simulant-from-destiny-14769930
Frozen Elsa figurineelsa-from-disney-s-frozen-6573919
Star Wars storm trooper rifleblaster-rifle-star-wars-storm-trooper-12097914
Vitruvian Man scuplturethe-vetruvian-man-sculpture-at-belgrave-square-london-1669908
Robocop ED209 figureed209-from-robocop-5090904
Harry Potter wandharry-potter-s-wand-10391898
Cable guardsicableguards-21235894
Game of Thrones dice cupstark-dice-cup-1847893
Overwatch McCree flashbangmccree-flashbang-from-overwatch-21595890
B2 bomber gliderb2-stealth-bomber-glider-improved-flight-powered-by-an-elastic-band-13337886
Star Wars X Wing helmetx-wing-pilot-helmet-starwars-episode-vii-the-force-awakens-9074859
Table 2. Cost of producing toys and benchmark purchase price (US $).
Table 2. Cost of producing toys and benchmark purchase price (US $).
DesignMass (g)Cost: Commercial FilamentCost: PelletCost: RecyclebotCommercially Available Alternative (USD)
Pokemon Go aimer27$0.66$0.18$0.09$4.99
Clash of Clans barbarian21$0.51$0.14$0.07$19.00
Voltron figure1247$30.26$8.44$4.27$9.99
Overwatch tracer gun190$4.61$1.29$0.65$26.59
Overwatch reaper mask333$8.08$2.25$1.14$25.00
Star Wars AT-AT683$16.57$4.62$2.34$7.50
Last Word Destiny Hand Cannon367$8.91$2.48$1.26$100.00
Overwatch D.VA Light Gun261$6.33$1.77$0.89$55.00
Overwatch Reaper Shotgun269$6.53$1.82$0.92$40.38
Batman cowl147$3.57$0.99$0.50$6.76
Destiny Hawkmoon gun473$11.48$3.20$1.62$99.99
Destiny thorn gun425$10.31$2.88$1.46$17.99
Star Wars VII Storm Trooper Helmet948$23.01$6.42$3.25$20.20
Kylo Ren helmet550$13.35$3.72$1.88$4.08
Wall outlet shelf69$1.67$0.47$0.24$10.00
Kylo Ren lightsaber319$7.74$2.16$1.09$20.00
Blade Runner blaster249$6.04$1.68$0.85$12.99
Fallout 3 T45-d helmet1586$38.49$10.73$5.44$185.91
Venus de Milo figurine28$0.68$0.19$0.10$9.00
Warcraft Frostmourne sword1233$29.92$8.34$4.23$133.00
3DR Iris+ quadcopter255$6.19$1.73$0.87$13.89
Pieta figurine164$3.98$1.11$0.56$16.88
P08 Luger gun138$3.35$0.93$0.47$79.00
Game of Thrones iron throne124$3.01$0.84$0.42$15.25
The Thinker figurine92$2.23$0.62$0.32$22.32
Overwatch McCree Peacemaker gun301$7.30$2.04$1.03$69.99
Fallout 4 Pipboy 3000 MkIV884$21.45$5.98$3.03$74.99
Articulated lamp180$4.37$1.22$0.62$7.97
Overwatch throwing star13$0.32$0.09$0.04$6.99
Strong bolt9$0.22$0.06$0.03$19.14
Mazigner Z Super Robot117$2.84$0.79$0.40$9.99
Sombra pistol495$12.01$3.35$1.70$85.00
Han Solo blaster216$5.24$1.46$0.74$10.12
Overwatch D.VA headset65$1.58$0.44$0.22$18.99
Overwatch Mercy staff1768$42.90$11.96$6.06$165.89
Overwatch Mercy blaster411$9.97$2.78$1.41$19.49
Gears of War Chainsaw gun1556$37.76$10.53$5.33$199.99
Destiny Duke MK.44 gun325$7.89$2.20$1.11$125.00
Fallout 4 Laser pistol1322$32.08$8.95$4.53$89.99
Overwatch loot box124$3.01$0.84$0.42$8.98
Cat at British Museum62$1.50$0.42$0.21$75.99
Halo 5 assault rifle2295$55.69$15.53$7.86$50.00
Portal gun1528$37.08$10.34$5.24$279.99
Clash of Clans figurine2$0.05$0.01$0.01$29.99
Harry Potter elder wand17$0.41$0.12$0.06$4.79
Groot flower pot57$1.38$0.39$0.20$8.99
Melted Darth Vader mask172$4.17$1.16$0.59$8.00
Fallout 4 10mm pistol793$19.24$5.37$2.72$24.99
Starcraft Kerrigan statue112$2.72$0.76$0.38$55.79
Destiny ghost116$2.81$0.78$0.40$7.00
Lich king figurine487$11.82$3.30$1.67$15.00
Ant Man helmet367$8.91$2.48$1.26$44.59
Game of Thrones House emblem34$0.83$0.23$0.12$9.95
Clash of Clans king figure24$0.58$0.16$0.08$19.00
Tooth toothbrush holder120$2.91$0.81$0.41$2.00
Halo 3 ODST helmet1118$27.13$7.57$3.83$9.99
Fallout 4 protectron figure98$2.38$0.66$0.34$24.99
Discobolus figurine35$0.85$0.24$0.12$7.25
Anonymous mask383$9.29$2.59$1.31$4.95
Guardian of the Galaxy Star Lord mask351$8.52$2.38$1.20$5.99
Witcher 3 wall plaque100$2.43$0.68$0.34$45.00
Overwatch widowmaker rifle1364$33.10$9.23$4.67$145.89
Fallout 4 combat rifle and shotgun351$8.52$2.38$1.20$85.00
Michelangelo’s David75$1.82$0.51$0.26$29.93
Triceratops skull66$1.60$0.45$0.23$40.00
Skull ring5$0.12$0.03$0.02$9.95
Star Wars NN-44 Rey’s Blaster141$3.42$0.95$0.48$45.00
Joker mask751$18.22$5.08$2.57$11.56
Fork/spoon support for disability17$0.41$0.12$0.06$11.00
Gryffindor coat of arms48$1.16$0.32$0.16$8.00
Pokemon figurines63$1.53$0.43$0.22$30.00
Rubik’s cube12$0.29$0.08$0.04$4.99
Fallout 4 Kellogg’s pistol152$3.69$1.03$0.52$100.00
Dobby the Elf figurine365$8.86$2.47$1.25$31.36
Statue of Liberty figurine85$2.06$0.58$0.29$6.44
Minions figurines121$2.94$0.82$0.41$26.80
Destiny sleeper simulant1274$30.92$8.62$4.37$211.66
Frozen Elsa figurine33$0.80$0.22$0.11$7.99
Star Wars storm trooper rifle486$11.79$3.29$1.67$170.00
Vitruvian Man scuplture12$0.29$0.08$0.04$31.49
Robocop ED209 figure736$17.86$4.98$2.52$21.99
Harry Potter wand8$0.19$0.05$0.03$13.55
Cable guards7$0.17$0.05$0.02$1.25
Game of Thrones dice cup59$1.43$0.40$0.20$8.32
B2 bomber glider20$0.49$0.14$0.07$10.57
Star Wars X Wing helmet949$23.03$6.42$3.25$41.40
Hawkmoon #2621$15.07$4.20$2.13$99.99
Destiny ghost #248$1.16$0.32$0.16$7.00
Table 3. Cost savings for individual toys (US$) and percent (%) savings.
Table 3. Cost savings for individual toys (US$) and percent (%) savings.
DesignCost Savings (USD)Percent Savings (%)
Commercial FilamentPelletsRecyclebotCommercial FilamentPelletsRecyclebot
Pokemon Go aimer$4.33$4.81$4.9087%96%98%
Clash of Clans barbarian$18.49$18.86$18.9397%99%100%
Voltron figure$(20.27)$1.55$5.72−203%16%57%
Overwatch tracer gun$21.98$25.30$25.9483%95%98%
Overwatch reaper mask$16.92$22.75$23.8668%91%95%
Star Wars AT-AT$(9.07)$2.88$5.16−121%38%69%
Last Word Destiny Hand Cannon$91.09$97.52$98.7491%98%99%
Overwatch D.VA Light Gun$48.67$53.23$54.1188%97%98%
Overwatch Reaper Shotgun$33.85$38.56$39.4684%95%98%
Batman cowl$3.19$5.77$6.2647%85%93%
Destiny Hawkmoon gun$88.51$96.79$98.3789%97%98%
Destiny thorn gun$7.68$15.11$16.5343%84%92%
Star Wars VII Storm Trooper Helmet$(2.81)$13.78$16.95−14%68%84%
Kylo Ren helmet$(9.27)$0.36$2.20−227%9%54%
Wall outlet shelf$8.33$9.53$9.7683%95%98%
Kylo Ren lightsaber$12.26$17.84$18.9161%89%95%
Blade Runner blaster$6.95$11.31$12.1453%87%93%
Fallout 3 T45-d helmet$147.42$175.18$180.4779%94%97%
Venus de Milo figurine$8.32$8.81$8.9092%98%99%
Warcraft Frostmourne sword$103.08$124.66$128.7778%94%97%
3DR Iris+ quadcopter$7.70$12.16$13.0255%88%94%
Pieta figurine$12.90$15.77$16.3276%93%97%
P08 Luger gun$75.65$78.07$78.5396%99%99%
Game of Thrones iron throne$12.24$14.41$14.8380%94%97%
The Thinker figurine$20.09$21.70$22.0090%97%99%
Overwatch McCree Peacemaker gun$62.69$67.95$68.9690%97%99%
Fallout 4 Pipboy 3000 MkIV$53.54$69.01$71.9671%92%96%
Articulated lamp$3.60$6.75$7.3545%85%92%
Overwatch throwing star$6.67$6.90$6.9595%99%99%
Strong bolt$18.92$19.08$19.1199%100%100%
Mazigner Z Super Robot$7.15$9.20$9.5972%92%96%
Sombra pistol$72.99$81.65$83.3086%96%98%
Han Solo blaster$4.88$8.66$9.3848%86%93%
Overwatch D.VA headset$17.41$18.55$18.7792%98%99%
Overwatch Mercy staff$122.99$153.93$159.8374%93%96%
Overwatch Mercy blaster$9.52$16.71$18.0849%86%93%
Gears of War Chainsaw gun$162.23$189.46$194.6681%95%97%
Destiny Duke MK.44 gun$117.11$122.80$123.8994%98%99%
Fallout 4 Laser pistol$57.91$81.04$85.4664%90%95%
Overwatch loot box$5.97$8.14$8.5666%91%95%
Cat at British Museum$74.49$75.57$75.7898%99%100%
Halo 5 assault rifle$(5.69)$34.47$42.14−11%69%84%
Portal gun$242.91$269.65$274.7587%96%98%
Clash of Clans figurine$29.94$29.98$29.98100%100%100%
Harry Potter elder wand$4.38$4.67$4.7391%98%99%
Groot flower pot$7.61$8.60$8.7985%96%98%
Melted Darth Vader mask$3.83$6.84$7.4148%85%93%
Fallout 4 10mm pistol$5.75$19.62$22.2723%79%89%
Starcraft Kerrigan statue$53.07$55.03$55.4195%99%99%
Destiny ghost$4.19$6.22$6.6060%89%94%
Lich king figurine$3.18$11.70$13.3321%78%89%
Ant Man helmet$35.68$42.11$43.3380%94%97%
Game of Thrones House emblem$9.12$9.72$9.8392%98%99%
Clash of Clans king figure$18.42$18.84$18.9297%99%100%
Tooth toothbrush holder$(0.91)$1.19$1.59−46%59%79%
Halo 3 ODST helmet$(17.14)$2.42$6.16−172%24%62%
Fallout 4 protectron figure$22.61$24.33$24.6590%97%99%
Discobolus figurine$6.40$7.01$7.1388%97%98%
Anonymous mask$(4.34)$2.36$3.64−88%48%73%
Guardian of the Galaxy Star Lord mask$(2.53)$3.61$4.79−42%60%80%
Witcher 3 wall plaque$42.57$44.32$44.6695%98%99%
Overwatch widowmaker rifle$112.79$136.66$141.2277%94%97%
Fallout 4 combat rifle and shotgun$76.48$82.62$83.8090%97%99%
Michelangelo’s David$28.11$29.42$29.6794%98%99%
Triceratops skull$38.40$39.55$39.7796%99%99%
Skull ring$9.83$9.92$9.9399%100%100%
Star Wars NN-44 Rey’s Blaster$41.58$44.05$44.5292%98%99%
Joker mask$(6.66)$6.48$8.99−58%56%78%
Fork/spoon support for disability$10.59$10.88$10.9496%99%99%
Gryffindor coat of arms$6.84$7.68$7.8485%96%98%
Pokemon figurines$28.47$29.57$29.7895%99%99%
Rubik’s cube$4.70$4.91$4.9594%98%99%
Fallout 4 Kellogg’s pistol$96.31$98.97$99.4896%99%99%
Dobby the Elf figurine$22.50$28.89$30.1172%92%96%
Statue of Liberty figurine$4.38$5.86$6.1568%91%95%
Minions figurines$23.86$25.98$26.3989%97%98%
Destiny sleeper simulant$180.74$203.04$207.2985%96%98%
Frozen Elsa figurine$7.19$7.77$7.8890%97%99%
Star Wars storm trooper rifle$158.21$166.71$168.3393%98%99%
Vitruvian Man sculpture$31.20$31.41$31.4599%100%100%
Robocop ED209 figure$4.13$17.01$19.4719%77%89%
Harry Potter wand$13.36$13.50$13.5299%100%100%
Cable guards$1.08$1.20$1.2386%96%98%
Game of Thrones dice cup$6.89$7.92$8.1283%95%98%
B2 bomber glider$10.08$10.43$10.5095%99%99%
Star Wars X Wing helmet$18.37$34.98$38.1544%84%92%
Hawkmoon #2$84.92$95.79$97.8685%96%98%
Destiny ghost #2$5.84$6.68$6.8483%95%98%
Table 4. 3D and 2D printed components, source and cost of Save the Planet Board Game assuming commercial filament and cardstock.
Table 4. 3D and 2D printed components, source and cost of Save the Planet Board Game assuming commercial filament and cardstock.
ItemSource ( [USD]
Card holdercard-holder-for-save-the-planet-board-game-3562039.150.90
The Thinkerthe-thinker-at-the-muse-rodin-france-212713.860.32
Open board game figurineopen-board-game-figurine-60137.500.17
Superman bustsuperman-bust-35186.46 0.15
Game Boards2D printing costs5 sheets1.13
Total 2.89
Back to TopTop