back to article McDonalds ponders in-store 3D printing for Happy Meal toys

McDonalds is considering whether 3D printers could be used in its stores to produce the pocket-sized toys which are a key part of their Happy Meals. The burger corp’s UK IT director, Mark Fabes, said he was looking at potential applications of 3d printing – and one was whether it could be used to produce the toys which are …


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  1. James 29

    hmm HP

    Does that no mean the plastic for the printer is going to cost upwards of £100 for a gram?

    1. Ralph B

      Re: hmm HP

      It would be the right time for McDonalds to move to HP, because they've just dropped Heinz.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Probably more nutrition

    in the plastic tool

  3. Jim Carter

    An interesting idea

    Although I think they use it for the food already.

    1. Cliff

      Re: An interesting idea

      They use it for the 'cheese'. And similarly the cheese can be cut into thin strips and fed into the printer.

      Economies of scale.

      1. Psyx

        Re: An interesting idea

        Are they allowed to even call it cheese?

        I'm unconvinced that it's commercially less viable to mass produce toys in China and bulk ship them than it is to give a 3D printer with McStaff and expect it not to get broken in a week.

  4. Tom 7

    The hygene problem is worrying

    mcdonalds grease will soon bugger the printer.

  5. Graham Marsden

    I thought...

    .... the full stop should have gone after "Happy Meal" in the title...

    1. Znort666

      Re: I thought...

      ...maybe a comma would have been better.

  6. James Pickett

    Even if HP doesn't do it, I think cost will be the problem. How much are McD currently paying for their toys, 2p?

    1. Steve Todd

      True, commercially printed 3D objects tend to cost rather more than a Happy Meal.

    2. Fletchulence


      You're not even close - they're pretty much sold at cost. You couldn't get it shipped for that, let alone produced, packed. Don't forget there are licensing fees in there somewhere too.

  7. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

    HP "considering entering the market"?

    Um, what was the HP DesignJet 3D, then? Really, HP, amnesia in a major IT supplier is not an attractive attribute.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: HP "considering entering the market"?

      "Really, HP, amnesia in a major IT supplier is not an attractive attribute."

      More likely they've only just remembered there's a huge, huge warehouse full of zillions of unsold Designjets, which have been sitting heavily on the balance sheet, rather like a surfeit of Big Macs.

      Those who read Tim Worstal's article the other day will recall that millions can be made by linking up those who want lots of something, but think there's no supply, and those wanting to shift lots of something, but believing there's no demand. Somewhere in HP, some bright spark mulled and mulled over who in the world might have a demand for a lot of machines to print moderate numbers of small 3D plastic ornaments, printed to unexacting standards, and to a small range of patterns that change on a quarterly basis....

  8. Matt 116

    We have some of those printers in our office and they are pretty slow to print things out. I can only imagine a McD's would need stacks of them churning stuff out 24-7 to keep up with demand. Getting on a band wagon and using technology for technologies sake?

  9. Captain Scarlet

    Take my money

    I have always dreamed about being able to choose my happy meal characters (Well ok maybe when I was five)

  10. eJ2095

    Thought the burgers tasted like plastic anyway

    Just use the burger recipe for this

  11. Lamont Cranston

    This'd spell and end to Happy Meal toys with moving parts, then?

    It's pretty difficult to occupy a child with a statue.

    1. Tom Wood

      Re: This'd spell and end to Happy Meal toys with moving parts, then?

      You can 3D print objects with working moving parts.

  12. Haku

    Free advertising because someone at McD had a 'thought'?

    You really got suckered into this, El Reg.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just a start

    I guess what he was saying is that they could pilot the printing of toys - even if these are out of run / special edition that would cost extra.

    Personally, I see the future as 3D printed food.

    Vats of lab-grown minced beef, chicken style meat and even pork could be used to 'print' burgers, mcnuggets and mcribs on demand.

  14. Tromos

    There ain't no sich animal

    The article mentions 'a nutritious McD's. I'd love to know where to get one.

    1. RISC OS

      Re: There ain't no sich animal

      A nutricous meal can be found ad bob mcdonalds residence, 23174 Main Street, a guy who lives opposite mcdonalds and happens to have the same surname.

  15. James 32

    I agree with Sir Wiggum

    Mickey Dees are simple looking at getting the expertise with 3d printers because soon they will be replacing staff with food printers and McDs will be nothing more than a walk in vending machine.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: I agree with Sir Wiggum

      So Star Trek was pointing to McDonalds then? This would be a great idea... printing burgers from vat-grown meat without a surly teenager spitting in them.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Given that McDonald's employees and for the most part fast food restaurants in general don't employ the brightest. When the current workers have an issue with putting paper in the receipt printer or figuring out why a receipt isn't printing let alone taking an order correctly, who exactly will replenish a 3D printer?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I take it that your McD support?

      Having worked for the NHS and legal I can attest that this problem exists the world around!

  17. DrXym

    Not likely to happen any time soon

    3D printers take ages to work and give off fumes. And it could take 10 minutes to print a crude "toy" assuming it wasn't botched during rendering. The tech would have to become a lot cheaper, faster, more reliable and less smelly for it to appear in a venue like McDonalds.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not likely to happen any time soon

      "The tech would have to become a lot cheaper, faster, more reliable and less smelly for it to appear in a venue like McDonalds."

      Less smelly? Their food is smelly, people still frequent that establishment.

      1. DrXym

        Re: Not likely to happen any time soon

        Yes their food is smelly as in their restaurant smells of cooked food. People are okay with this for obvious reasons.

        They would not be okay if the restaurant smelt of burned plastic or other fumes. McDonalds would have to enclose these 3D printers in ventilation boxes, just compounding the pointlessness of the entire exercise.

  18. Velv

    <quote>“It's just a thought,” said Fabes, speaking to El Reg at a Fujitsu customer event in Munich.</quote>

    Was that before or after visiting the bierkeller...

  19. M7S

    How would this stop the issue of toy selection changin from one week to the next?

    They'll surely have some kind of expiry/lockdown on the file in the same way that digital cinemas do. After all regardless of how they are produced there's a licensing cost for all these things, which I expect is per unit or "up to a given number".

    If they want to offer a menu (sorry) with multiple options, they could just ship boxes of each in an adaptation of what they currently do.

  20. ChrisBoy

    As if...

    ... they don't churn enough shit into the world as it is.

  21. Stephen 2

    Nothing but a story

    This is nothing but a PR ploy. Have you seen how long it takes for a 3D printer to create anything sizeable? Are we meant to sit there for 6 hours while our toy is printed?

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Nothing but a story

      Yeah, 3D printing has reached the end of the road, it's not going to get faster and cheaper in the next 5-10 years at all.

  22. Michael Habel

    On a technical note how long does it take to actually print a decent sized lump of Plastic anyway?

  23. Azzy

    Not a bad idea...

    but before they start making their happymeal toys on-the-spot and just-in-time, maybe they could try that with the food?

  24. Richard Wharram

    Not a chance

    3D printers below the £100,000 mark take hours to print a toy that is vastly inferior to the toys that McDs give out now. No chance this is anywhere near the horizon.

    1. Haku

      Re: Not a chance

      Exactly, economically you can't put a 3D printer up against a Chinese manufacturer with proper injection molding equipment and cheap source materials + cheap labor.

  25. RISC OS

    How long before they...

    ....start printing their "food" with 3d printers out of blocks of "meat" and "bread", just need shaping with the 3d printer and then move a long a conveyor to a grill...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @RISC OS

    Can't happen quickly enough IMO. Printing meat that is. The end product would be far superior to the muck they are allowed to sell as meat now. Hate him or hate him Jamie Oliver is right about this one.

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