Tell me if you’ve been in this scenario before. You rush out to McDonalds because you hear the Happy Meals contain My Little Pony toys and you really need that Rainbow Dash to complete your collection. Upon getting there, you find out that the My Little Pony toys have been replaced by Polly Pocket. It’s a massive disappointment, and your 24-year-old self begrudgingly eats your Happy Meal in silence.
That scenario must have played out countless times in the past, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. However, it may not be the only future for McDonalds as the company is thinking about making its Happy Meal toy selections more flexible.
The Register reports that McDonalds’ UK IT Director, Mark Farbes, has publicly stated that the company is looking into whether or not 3D printers could be used in McDonalds’ restaurants. The reason being that the above scenario seems to happen all too often, and McDonalds wants to have the capability to print you that Rainbow Dash even if the toy promotion has already ended.
It sounds great and all, but Farbes clarifies that it’s only a thought at this point in time. For starters, the cost of outfitting every single McDonalds location with a multi-material 3D printer would cost millions, if not billions, of dollars. There’s also the little problem that health departments might not look kindly upon a restaurant having a machine that smelts plastic so close to where the food is prepared.
While it may not satisfy health department requirements, McDonalds could very well place the 3D printer in a separate part of the store. Upon ordering a Happy Meal, the child would receive a ticket that can then be used on the 3D printer to create the toy of their choice. It prints during their meal and then they pick it up on the way out. Of course, 3D printers must become faster before that can become a reality unless children want to wait four to five hours for their toy to be printed.
Still, it’s a really cool idea and a rather forward thinking one at that from a company like McDonalds. It will be interesting to see how the restaurant chain executes such an idea if they ever decide to go through with it.