Toronto - A new iPad app enables budding designers and artists to create their own dolls that are made overnight with 3D printing technology.
The London-based company MakieLab, which also offers customized toys and games, said it seeks to encourage creativity and crafting. With the Makies Doll Factory, children can design the doll's facial features, hairstyle and clothing.
"The technology means we can make dolls with individual faces, or dinosaurs with unusual markings, or cars with specially-designed trims," said Alice Taylor, the company's founder and CEO. "That's something that mass production can't do, and 3D printing can do."
When the digital version is finished in the app, it is sent to 3D printers that manufacture the body parts, which are assembled and dressed so the 10-inch (25.4cm) dolls can be shipped within 24 to 36 hours after ordering.
The 3D technology prints objects from computer designs by adding plastic layer-upon-layer until an object is formed.
The dolls, which are manufactured in Amsterdam and London, can also feature flashing eyes and cheeks by inserting an electronic chip into the doll's head.
The basic dolls sell for $89. Hair, skin and clothing can each be added for additional fees. The company said it is working on iPhone and Android apps and a game that will allow the dolls to co-exist in the digital world.
Taylor said with 3D printing toys can be manufactured locally and quickly, but she doesn't expect the technology to replace traditional toy manufacturing methods.
"A lot of people ask, 'Is this going to replace injection molding?' And the answer is of course not because injection molding is cheap and we're always going to need mass produced stuff," she said.
Other 3D printing apps include 123D Create by Autodesk, which allows users to create 3D characters.