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

Would you like to supersize that molten plastic? (the toy, not the cheeseburger)

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 bundled in McDonalds’ Happy Meals.

Countless families have had their enjoyment of a nutritious McD’s ruined because they turned up the week that the starring character in that season's kiddie-sized blockbuster had been replaced by an earnest but boring supporting character as the toy of choice.

Being able to cook up Monsters Inc’s Sully to order could be an even bigger draw for many families than the ability to order a cheeseburger without semi-raw diced onion or a wafer of pickle.

However, before you pile down to your nearest branch, it’s worth pointing out that this is not even a pilot. Fabes was speaking on a panel on emerging technologies at a Fujitsu customer event in Munich. McDonalds has no current plans to explore 3D printing technology further.

“It's just a thought,” said Fabes, told El Reg.

He said apart from cost considerations, there was the issue of whether plastic smelting machines were appropriate for use in food outlets.

Right now there are few names in 3D printing that will be familiar to mainstream tech buyers. However, Meg Whitman told a conference recently that HP was considering an entry into the market.

Fabes said any move by McDonalds would have to be alongside a serious tech supplier: “It’s got to be a big partner in terms of robustness.” ®

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