3d printing and game prototyping

Cross your arms and blink

Cube 3d printer

Welcome to the future of prototyping

Some think of technology as the genie in the bottle – loose the genie and there’s no putting it back. If that’s the case, then this genie’s out and ready to start granting wishes.

As a prime example of the impact of Moore’s Law, given that 3d printers will soon be available from Staples, I wonder just how such technology will impact game prototyping?

I can think of a couple of places where 3d printing will have a significant impact on prototyping (possibly even production) and game development:

  • Dice – Custom dice are the obvious change here. In fact, I’m considering creating some 3d printed dice for Hunters vs. Vampires just to test the technology.
  • Pawns/meeple/miniatures/tokens – Custom pawns and minis no longer need to be sculpted and cast. Great news for a game designer who wants to include something special in a game.

Do you have other thoughts on how such a technology will impact games?

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3 Responses to 3d printing and game prototyping

  1. callin says:

    One thing often overlooked with “cheap” 3D printing is the cost of the plastic. The material for this costs $50 and the question is how large an item can it make with that? 1 mini, 2? 10? That is the real line of effectiveness and change in our niche.

  2. Kevin says:

    Good point callin. Availability alone isn’t the game changer, its tied up in a number of additional factors like ease of application and how cost effective the process is.
    But with 3d printing now hitting the home-user, the technology can only get better and cheaper.

    I often think back to the big, bulky laser printers that once were the sole domain of the corporation, now they practically give those things away with the purchase of a new computer (a wireless color model might run you around $150.) I suspect that’s the future for 3d printers.

  3. Brian says:

    As a caster of miniatures I can say that it will be some time before our industry becomes unnecessary. We get many of the 3D sculpts from artists to cast in both resin and metal. I have to say it but the handmade minis have, in many ways, better “character” than the printed ones. Not to mention the cost for a sintered print is very cost prohibitive atm. That process can get very high detail for around $6.50 a cubic centimeter. Using them as masters for casting will be very viable for a long time.

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