McDonalds Ponder 3D Printing Happy Meal Toys in Store

by Matthew Wellington on November 19, 2013

Shrek Happy Meal Toys“Happy Meal Toys” have for quite a long time now been attracting droves of families to McDonalds stores because besides enjoying mouth-watering treats, every child at least gets to walk back home with a toy.

Good motivation to lure in any toddler you might say!

But given the recent proclamation by Mark Fabes, McDonald’s UK IT Director, apparently the company isn’t planning on stopping there.

While in a panel at a Fujitsu customer event in Munich, the IT director said that McDonalds is currently pondering on the prospects of installing 3D printers in their stores.

The main purpose of doing this would be to enable each of their stores to easily manufacture Happy Meal Toys and therefore better the services they provide to their customers. The pocket-sized toys have overtime become a major part of the Happy Meals enjoyed in their stores and that is why McDonalds wish to enhance the experience of its customers through the use of 3D printing technology.

So practically if their plans go through, every time you walk into your favorite McDonald’s joint with you kid for a burger or meal, he or she will be leaving with their favorite blockbuster star toy. How does that sound? Well to a lot of families and McDonald’s customers, this is definitely great news.

However it is worth keeping in mind that although McDonald’s has set its eyes on 3D printing, the new plans might still not be impemented any time soon. At the event, Mark Fabes was quick to mention that this is only a thought at the moment because there are a lot of other factors that must be considered before full implementation can be done.

Potential Benefits to McDonalds

The news about McDonalds intent of adopting additive manufacturing in their operations has quickly spread throughout the country with many being dazed by this decision. Not every other day do you get to hear that your favorite fast food spot is going to buy 3D printers right?

Nevertheless, this is a bold step by McDonalds; one that is likely going to see them savor many benefits if everything falls into place as anticipated.

First and foremost, there will be no more disappointments by families that arrive to their nearest McDonald’s branch only to find that the lead character that their kid badly wanted has been replaced by a not so pleasant one. With 3D printers in their stores, it will be just as easy to order a particular toy alongside your Happy Meal.

Since all the manufacturing of Happy Meal Toys by McDonalds will be done in-house, this new arrangement will also be more convenient both to the company and their customers; for it will be possible to produce desired toys on demand.
Come to think about it, another reason why this idea may not be so ridiculous after all is due to the fact that 3D printing will somewhat broaden the creativity displayed by the Happy Meal toys produced by McDonalds.

3D printing is known to enable designers to design and fabricate anything easily and stress free. Now the upside of having a 3D printer at your favourite McDonalds Stores is that your kids can have customized toys made for them every time you pay a visit.

There is also likely to be a greater variety of toys made through additive manufacturing in terms of size, colors and the innovativeness of the designs.

Basically, more families and kids stand to benefit from these new plans as there will be no limits to the Happy Meal Toys they can collect whenever they enjoy a meal at McDonalds.

Key Considerations

You may be wondering if everything really sounds so rosy, why are 3D printers not already installed in McDonald’s stores? What’s the waiting for? Good question, we’ll get there in a minute!

There are a few considerations that have to be made before McDonalds can turn this idea into a reality. First of all, looking at the cost aspect of making this feasible, McDonald’s will have to be prepared to part with a substantial amount of cash in order to have all their stores installed with 3D printing machines.

3D printers do not come cheap. And for efficiency to be guaranteed the Corp will have to invest in high end printers which often require several thousand dollars for purchase. As a result, sound budgeting is necessary for this to be possible.

Secondly, McDonald’s is still trying to evaluate the appropriateness of having plastic smelting machines in their food outlets. Albeit an excellent idea, the company will have to evaluate all the other logistics that come into play when 3D printers are installed in their food stores before they can conclusively decide whether or not to implement the same.

Lastly, according to Mark Fabes, it is quite impossible for McDonalds to start 3D printing Happy Meal Toys in-house from their stores without some kind of backing from a serious tech supplier. Therefore until they find a big partner, their plans remain at bay.

Other Important Implications

There is no doubt that buying 3D printers and beginning to 3D print Happy Meal Toys in house will have significant benefits to the company and all their branches. But even then, there are many other essential implications that this step will trigger which have to be given thought before any further action is taken.

To start with, McDonalds is one of the most popular outlets on the planet. Considering the countless customers that they have to serve every day, how fast will the 3D printing machines purchased need to be in order for an efficient service to be delivered?

Which brings us to the next question; how many printers will a single store require? Most if not all their stores are quite large, thus will one printer be enough?

Finally, while implementing this idea will certainly set McDonalds apart, it is not automatic that 3D printers will significantly increase their customer base. Consequently the company may first want to give this some sort of a ‘test run’ and weight their pros and cons in order to reach a judicious decision.

If you’d like to read about 3D printing of actual food, we recently published articles on printing Chocolate, Sugar and NASA’s Space Pizza!

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