Disney is exploring the use of 3D printers to build new kinds of light features into objects.
The firm’s researchers are working on a range of techniques including “light pipes” and tubes of enclosed air that can be made to glow in controlled ways.
They say that 3D printers can create objects with “micron accuracy” that would otherwise be more complicated and costly to build.
It paves the way for the firm to create new kinds of toys.
However, one expert suggested it might be some time before the innovation became cheap enough to use to create mass produced items.
A paper published by the entertainment giant’s Pittsburgh labs details prototypes already created including a bug-like figure with glowing eyes that display different graphics; chess set pieces that use light to display information about their position on the board; and blocks of plastic that appear to show explosions inside when light is shone at them.
“We envision a future world where interactive devices can be printed rather than assembled,” wrote the team.
“A world where a device with active components is created as a single object, rather than a case enclosing circuit boards and individual assembled parts.”
The engineers used computer software to make objects which included innovative lighting elements. They explained that creating the toys on 3D printers allowed them to create a real-world prototype within minutes, rather than having to wait for a factory to be retooled.
-With bbc.co.uk input