Meet Cubetto Playset, a tangible programming interface by Primo Toys that teaches children programming logic without the need for literacy. Founded in 2013, the company’s mission is to improve the way technology and science are introduced to children through tangible play. Their flagship product, the Cubetto Playset and Cubetto Robot is designed in the UK combining natural materials and electronics.
Starting life as a Kickstarter Project, Primo Toys had a need to deliver a short series run to fulfil the initial orders placed through the programme. Ben Callicott, Head of Product, Primo Toys, identified Additive Manufacturing (AM) as the ideal production method for this initial run of 650 sets.
“Additive Manufacturing was a great choice because it allowed us to produce at low volumes plus it gave us the ability to tweak and improve the quality of the design for future orders.”
A key benefit of AM is the ability to modify and change the design of a product during the production process. Whereas with traditional manufacturing methods you’re committed once you have purchased expensive tooling, with AM you can simply modify or adapt the 3D file at any point based on production feedback and development needs.
Primo Toys reaped the benefits of this flexibility when they encountered difficulties with the build and assembly of the first set of parts. Working with the Materialise Design and Engineering team, the functional features of the Cubetto Robot and the directional blocks were re-engineered to adapt or improve their performance and assembly attributes.
Certified Additive Manufacturing: A faster, more efficient production method
Following these design changes, the company saw significant improvements in assembly times and the costs of the parts. As Ben at Primo Toys says, “After the re-engineering work we managed to bring the assembly time down by about 25%, to under half an hour. We saw around a 20% reduction on the cost of parts, and more if you factor in the time saved on assembly through minimizing the amount of parts, and through designing for Additive Manufacturing.”
Commenting on the project, Philip Hudson at Materialise UK says, “The use of Additive Manufacturing for the Cubetto Playset is a great example of the benefits this technology offers – producing low volume series runs without expensive investment in tooling, with a reduced time to market, and the ability to change and improve product design during the production process.”
For Ben at Primo Toys, the project has changed his view of Additive Manufacturing. “Having initially viewed 3D Printing as a prototyping tool, it is really exciting to see the opportunities of using it as a manufacturing process. It’s going to be interesting to see how it continues to grow over the coming years.”