This is a bit old now, but I just noticed it this week: a company 3D printed thousands of 3D models for their conference attendees.
It’s a very unusual use of 3D printing technology, and I’m not sure if this approach could be used by other companies for similar promotional purposes, but nevertheless it was quite the feat of 3D printing.
The company was Blizzard Entertainment, makers of World of Warcraft. For those not familiar, “WoW” is one of the most popular MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games). It’s immensely popular, with over 100M registrants as of 2016. In the game players are assigned a pre-made virtual character through which they experience game play.
But the virtual character is just that: something you see on a screen.
Blizzard Entertainment changed that in Nov 2017 at their annual user conference, Blizzcon, where they actually 3D printed ALL of the attendees’ WoW characters and placed them on stage in a castle scene for attendees to view. Apparently they also provided a remotely controlled camera for attendees to zoom around and take a closer look at the prints, since the scene was so massive and carefully prepared.
The specifications of the 3D print job were quite interesting, as reported by participant user hollywood3dprinting on Reddit:
11,500 unique SLS 3D prints representing all WoW characters
SLS used instead of SLA to avoid billions of hours removing support structures on the complex figurines
Prints were 7.5-9.0cm in height, with a 0.100mm layer size
A unique code was placed on the bottom of each figurine to aid in scene placement
The code also was used by attendees to guide the remote control viewing camera
Each print job took on ~150 characters, stacked into the build volume using Autodesk NetFabb
This implies around 80 print jobs, each likely taking about a day to complete
This project must have taken many months to complete – and that’s just the printing. The character designs would have to have been extracted from WoW databases and adapted for 3D printing, as they were no doubt initially designed for optimal 2D viewing, not solid 3D printing.
It’s a very impressive 3D print undertaking, but I am unsure if this application could be used by other companies for similar promotional purposes. WoW involves large numbers of participants who have deep affinity to their character, making the experience of seeing a physical representation that much more important to them.
Is there another industry or company where the virtual could be practically transformed into physical for the benefit of users?