Fidgeting – it’s what you were told off for at school. For most of us, our early school memories are blighted by the numerous occasions when our restless creativity was brusquely condemned as a cardinal sin. Is it strange then to now find a 3D printing bureau – and Kickstarter – promoting it heavily?
The Trama Fidget Spinner
With the help of 3D prototyping, young Canadian designer Sean Hodgins has been able to bring this hand-held toy into a market that has seen quite a boom in recent years. It is preceded by squishy stress balls, hoberman spheres, silly putty, klixx, wikki stix, gear rings, magnet sculptures, lock blocks, chewlery, koosh balls and sensei cubes – to name a few.
Proven therapeutic value
Whilst many of these are novelties aimed squarely at children, others are serious therapeutic toys, designed to aid concentration and stress relief, or to stimulate and calm autistic, hyperactive and other challenged children and adults of all ages. There is sound research to back their therapeutic efficacy.
The idea is not new in itself – stress balls and Chinese puzzles are ancient, and for centuries the rosary served a similar purpose for millions of people. Rather, it is the technology that is excitingly new – and the speed with which an idea can be brought to market with the help of 3D printing services, as was the case with the Trama.
Development time is also money
Hand spinners like the Trama – based around steel or ceramic bearings – usually retail in the range of USD $15 to $30 and upwards. This is simply too expensive to be taken up by many people who could benefit from them, but using 3D printing services will enable Sean Hodgins to get his Trama (and a range of other similar designs) market ready at price points starting from just $6.
In this case, it is the combination of 3D prototyping and the innovation of crowd-sourced funding that is enabling Sean’s start-up, Idle Hands Development, to get off the ground so quickly, and without the burden of the massive bank debts that bring so many creative start-ups crashing prematurely back down to earth. The investment funds raised so far are nearly seven times the amount Sean was initially hoping to raise. The keen interest in 3D printing innovation is probably one of the reasons for his startling success.
The Trama is expected to start shipping wholesale from May 2017. Some of the designs can also be delivered direct from a 3D printing bureau, though at a higher price than the eventual wholesale product. The Idle Hands logo is itself a spinner design and usually comes in a black nylon plastic with a matte finish and a slight grainy feel. Ceramic or steel bearings must be ordered separately, but the ones the spinners are designed around are standard skateboard components, so readily available at a modest price. The mass marketed products will be available in a range of bright colours and with a choice of bearings.
So it seems that all that fidgeting at school was a problem not because it was bad for us – but because our teachers may have urgently needed a good fidget of their own.