Bringing smart tech back to kids: An interview with Laykanics

Last month, 3D Printing Industry took an in-depth look at the emerging potential of 3D printed toys for children. Through his research, our reporter posited that:

“Kids who are exposed to rapid prototyping at an early age and develop an interest in the industry through 3D-printed toys will develop a lifelong skill that can help them be more employable in the future. It will also foster the creative and technical sides of [children’s] brains to potentially increase their chances at becoming successful innovators and entrepreneurs.”

Thankfully, one start-up based in the UK is operating under a similar philosophy. Laykanics is offering children and enthusiasts the valuable opportunity to become invested in the world of mechanics, engineering and design in a truly integrated fashion to ensure real comprehension and to cultivate innovation. We recently got a chance to sit down with Laykanics’ founder, Alfonso Villanueva to discuss the ins and outs of the company’s products, their philosophy and where they want to take their vision in the future.

Reawakening the industry

A graduate of MIT with special interest in the design angle of the mechanics industry, Villanueva is an Aerospace Engineer who previously worked for Rolls Royce in design and turbo mechanics capacities in both the US and the UK. Having navigated a fruitful career in mechanical engineering, Villanueva soon developed the desire to spread his own knowledge and passion to for his field to others – specifically to the younger generation.

Unfortunately, Villanueva noticed early on the declining interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields among school-aged children. He suddenly had to think of an effective way to generate attraction to innovative industry. After some deliberation with fellow MIT alumni, Villanueva saw FDM additive manufacturing technology as the perfect hands-on approach to reawaken a passion for engineering and mechanics at a young age.

Projects with a purpose

So how exactly does Villanueva and Laykanics plan to implement a way to pique this interest? According to Villanueva, they are encouraging customers to “make layers and master the mechanics.”

Laykanics kit
Basic kit (Courtesy of Laykanics)

Through their website, Laykanics offers customers monthly and yearly subscriptions, which gives them access to all printing and programming projects. These projects – currently set to be released on a monthly basis with the potential to come out bi-weekly – are designed to get users involved in various aspects of mechanics design, such as robotics, wind turbines, thrust and compression and velocity. Users are meant to print and build handy gadgets, vehicles and robots that demonstrate the applications yielded through mechanical engineering. Additionally, Laykanics offers users a reusable basic kit, which features bolts, gears and other essential parts that can’t be 3D printed. Each project then, can be assembled using necessary parts from the kit as well as comprehensive instructions, .STL files for 3D printable parts and convenient technical drawings.

Laykanics project FROZOR (Courtesy of Laykanics)

Laykanics currently offers eight projects on their website, which are all available to download and assemble for all who subscribe. Villanueva says next month’s project will take advantage of the summer, teaching users about opposing wind speeds on a vehicle and also about tuning skills.

It is important to note that although Laykanics’ projects are perfect for use in classrooms, they are also available to those in the general public who simply wish to become more versed in the industry, or for enthusiasts who wish to expand their hobby. Whoever decides to delve into Laykanics’ projects will most certainly walk away with newfound interests and understanding, and perhaps even innovative new ideas for projects of their own.

(Courtesy of Laykanics)

Children are the future

Laykanics’ ultimate goal is to introduce a new generation back into STEM fields. Villanueva sees Laykanics eventually becoming a standard part of national curricula along with additive manufacturing technology in general. As the industry continues to grow and develop, the smartest place to introduce it is in classroom, giving students the tools, skills and knowledge they’ll need in the future both professionally and socially. Children’s large capacity for learning will allow them to quickly grasp mechanical concepts and then turn them into future inventions and innovations to benefit generations to come.

As for the industry as a whole, 3D printing technology isn’t far from becoming a staple in every household, just like a standard 2D printer. In addition to becoming an essential educational tool, Villanueva also sees 3D printing technology advancing closer and closer toward printed metals.

We’re sure to see big things from Laykanics in the near future. Be sure to stay tuned with the 3D Printing Industry newsletter for updates on all the latest news!