Re: [rp-ml] 3D Printing of Video Game Characters

From: Terry Wohlers (
Date: Wed Dec 12 2007 - 17:10:45 EET

Hi Brock,

You are right: there are technical issues associated with model preparation that could adversely impact a high volume, low margin business, such as this. FigurePrints will need to streamline the process and I'm sure that Ed Fries and his staff are working diligently on it.

How quickly will it take off? FigurePrints/Blizzard and Electronic Arts (likely next year) will motivate Microsoft, Sony, LucasArts, Ubisoft, Activision, Nintendo, and others to follow. In the short term, the challenge will be to fine-tune the file processing and part finishing steps, and then build capacity. FigurePrints will need to turn the jobs more quickly. I suspect that many customers will not wait 30-60 days.



  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Brock Hinzmann
  To: Terry Wohlers
  Cc: RP-ML
  Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2007 4:34 PM
  Subject: Re: [rp-ml] 3D Printing of Video Game Characters

  Thanks, Terry.

  I noticed this in our local print version of the Mercury News, but the
  electronic version you cite is better and provides more details. For
  instance, neither the print version or the FigurePrints Web site (as far
  as I could tell) correctly identifies that they are using a Z-Corp
  printer, although you can tell from the pictures.

  I recently visited a local Z-Corp VAR to discuss 3-D printing of figures
  from Second Life and found some of the same issues, such as some parts
  being too small to print reliably. Some aspects of the virtual world
  designs, such as hair or clothing, can be only one datapoint thick,
  which means they have no volume. Also, some visual representations of
  avatars are not in one piece, such as arms or legs that extend beneath
  the clothing, but are not connected by datapoints to the rest of the
  body/figure. Such design features need to be corrected before the figure
  will print in one piece. Looks like these guys have figured out all of that.

  Any speculation about how quickly this application might take off? I was
  at another virtual worlds meeting recently, where a representative from
  a Chinese company showed a large model of a Second Life avatar that had
  been done by hand from pictures taken from different angles. Is this

  Brock Hinzmann

  Terry Wohlers wrote:
> The idea has been discussed over the past few years and now it's a
> reality. Ed Fries, who led Microsoft's video game business, is rolling
> out FigurePrints (
> <>) today. The more than 9 million
> subscribers of World of Warcraft (WoW) can now order a 100-mm
> (4-inch) tall model of their personalized character from the online
> game. The models are manufactured on a 3D color printer from Z Corp.
> According to the article at the following link, Fries was inspired by
> an Electronic Arts' exhibit at the E3 show last year. The exhibit
> included 3D printed figures from EA's new Spore game.
> Fries has partnered with Blizzard Entertainment, the makers of WoW.
> Blizzard is expected to promote the FigurePrints service inside the
> game. The cost: $100 plus $15 for shipping.
> Due to demand and other factors, the service will not be rapid.
> Delivery will take 30-60 days from the time an order is placed. Even
> so, this exciting new application of additive fabrication (AF) will
> introduce 3D printing to millions of people. Until now, the estimated
> 2.3 million commercial CAD installations worldwide have been the
> source of data for 99 percent of the parts produced by AF technology.
> Regards,
> Terry
> ************
> Terry Wohlers
> Wohlers Associates, Inc.
> OakRidge Business Park
> 1511 River Oak Drive
> Fort Collins, Colorado 80525 USA
> 970-225-0086
> Fax 970-225-2027
> <>

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