Would you Like Fries with that 3D Print? Remembering My Childhood Zoo Day.

Mold-A-Rama of JFK's bust in honor of today's 50th anniversary (used with permission).

Mold-A-Rama of JFK’s bust in honor of today’s 50th anniversary (used with permission).

I saw an article where McDonald’s is considering using in store 3D printers to make happy meal toys.  This could have lots of cool benefits from being having “perfect inventory” with no shortages/leftovers or being sure a customer gets just the toy they’re missing to complete a set.  Of course this brought back to mind the originator of this concept, Mold-a-Rama.  As a kid growing up in Wisconsin I remember the yearly trips to the Milwaukee Zoo and the highlight for me, other than the polar bears, were the Mold-A-Rama machines.  These machines do injection molding on demand of souvenirs, in the zoo’s case your choice of several different animals from different machines across the zoo.  You had your choice of around a dozen brightly colored hollow plastic creatures.  I can still remember the experience, the smell the molten plastic, watching the mold close and open, the sounds of the hydraulic injection process and feeling my still warm new treasure.  It was a bunch of little experiences like this that lit the fire in me for science and engineering.  To have kids inspired similarly through a simple trip to McDonald’s would be amazing!

A group of complete Mold-A-Rama machines (used with permission).

A group of complete Mold-A-Rama machines (used with permission).

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