McDonald's said it could one day consider the use of in-store 3D printers to create plastic children’s toys on the fly for its famous Happy Meals.
McDonald's UK IT director, Mark Fabes, revealed that the American fast food giant would be willing to consider using 3D printers to make the pocket-sized toys as well as certain pieces of kitchen equipment in years to come.
The idea is that a 3D printer could be used to create a toy that is no longer being supplied in Happy Meals, possibly allowing a child to get the last toy in a series and complete their collection.
“We’ve all been in McDonald's when you’ve already got that one and you want to swap it and the only ones they’ve got are the ones you already have,” he told Techworld, adding that “it would be great” if McDonald's could reprint a toy that was no longer being distributed.
Fabes said that in order for McDonald's to take 3D printing more seriously, it must first of all come down in cost. The first high street 3D printers went on sale earlier this year at Maplin for £700.
“For me to put that sort of technology in a restaurant I’ve got to be very sure that people are able to support it and use it,” he added.
The ultrafine airborne particles produced as a result of 3D printing are another factor that McDonald's would have to consider because the kitchens need to be kept clean, said Fabes.
In the UK, McDonald's has started rolling out Samsung Galaxy Tab devices to a number of its restaurants.
The tablets, which are deployed in sets of 6-8 used and primarily for web browsing, are currently in 10-12 restaurants in the UK. However, Fabes revealed that the organisation has plans to roll out the devices to more restaurants over the next year and said they could eventually be used to order food as well.
Fabes added that he was willing to consider other tablet models, providing they were priced right, robust, and could be locked down and remotely managed.