3D printing stands for technologies, that can create physical objects directly from digital files. Therefore, 3D printing connects the physical and the digital world. This offers interesting possibilities in serious gaming. In this blogpost, we will give a brief overview, what is already done with 3D printing relevant for gaming and refer to some further information to enable interested users to get started with 3D printing.
Figurines / avatars / game characters: Any 3D object can be printed and therefore any object out of 3D games – with a 3D printing technology called binder jetting even in full-colour. There are several companies offering to 3D print game characters, avatars, etc. In combination with 3D scanning, it is also possible to create miniature figurines of yourself. One of these companies is FigurePrints: http://www.figureprints.com/xbox/
New displays / interfaces: 3D printing offers new possibilities for displays and interfaces. This video is showing some interesting applications by Disney Research: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTeXTbXA6-Y. Therefore, 3D printing could enable new and more customized ways how players interact with games.
New game concepts linking the digital and physical world: A large industrial company is using 3D printing to improve factory layouts in a “game-like” workshop. Thereby, they 3D scan the entire factory with quad-copters. Afterwards, they 3D print all the machines and equipment as models. During the workshop, employees play with the models and create different alternative factory layouts. A picture is taken of each layout, enabling to transfer it directly to the digital. Each model has a QR code printed on it. A specialised software identifies the different machines depending on their QR code on the pictures and directly creates the layout in the factory planning software.
There are countless opportunities with 3D printing in serious gaming. If you are interested in the technologies, you you can find additional information on 3D printing here:
Overview over the different technologies behind “3D printing”: https://www.additively.com/en/learn-about/3d-printing-technologies
Some example applications of 3D printing: https://www.additively.com/en/learn-about/3d-printing-use-cases