In order to show the average consumer that 3D printers aren't just for prototyping parts or building a plastic housing for an Arduino project, the MakerBot Digital Store has added a handful of downloadable 3D models of Sesame Street characters that parents can print for their kids.

While the initiative helps promote fun, consumer-friendly uses for 3D printers, it also illustrates one of the current issues with the technology. In the near-future someone with a 3D printer could—at least in theory—download and print copies of an actual physical product, the same way they can illegally download copyrighted digital media.

So it makes sense that companies are understandably hesitant to create 3D-printable versions of their most profitable properties. That's also why the MakerBot Digital Store is only introducing 3D models of Sesame Street B-list characters like Guy-Smiley, Yip-Yip, or Mr. Snuffleupagus—instead of Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, or Elmo. It's a little disappointing, but it's nice to see toy companies at least testing the 3D-printing waters. Because if promotions like this are successful, it means we might eventually be seeing more popular properties being made available to consumers this way. [MakerBot Digital Store]