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Boise State student uses TikTok to market her 3-D printed slugs

Sierra Sandison, who was recognized in the Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge, says the toys have become popular as fidget devices for people with autism or ADHD.

BOISE, Idaho — Sierra Sandison is a mechanical engineering student at Boise State who grew her business fast, and didn’t let the sluggish pandemic get in the way.

“When Covid started I bought my first 3-D printer because I no longer had access to the ones I loved at work at school," Sandison said. "And I started posting my 3-D prints on TikTok.”

One design in particular took off.

“I posted a video of this slug fidget toy and it totally went viral,” she said.

So on a Saturday morning, Sandison launched her website. She calls it 3-D Printcess. In less than one hour after launch, her stock of 100 slugs sold out. 

“They’re actually pretty cheap to make. Materials cost me less than two dollars, but this slug – this is the large – takes 12 hours to make," Sandison said. "So that’s really what my price is based on. So the large sells for 28 dollars which is a lot for a little plastic toy. The larges sold out with five minutes of me launching my website.“

Selling the slugs made Sandison a couple grand, and now she has about 2,000 people in line for more. She says her customer base ranges from people looking to unleash their inner 12-year-old, to parents buying them as toys for their children.

“There’s also a lot of people who live with ADHD or autism and like these as fidget or stim toy - that’s what I’ve been able to figure out but I don’t know why they are so much more popular than anything else I’m 3-D printing," she said.

Sandison was recognized for her business model in the Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge.

She won the Lifestyle and Service track, earning her $7,000 in prize money. With that money, she’s buying more 3-D printers to speed up slug production.

“If you’re not a slug person, I am going to be doing a lot more 3-D prints, so if you want to see cool things 3-D printed, check me out,” she said.

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