While there are over 244 million video gamers in the US alone, recent data cites over 2.8 billion worldwide, generating over $189 billion annually. Not surprisingly, these figures are only expected to grow, with projections showing a 5.6% year-on-year increase in what is a massive industry. Tabletop gaming, often designated as a different category, is currently valued at around $4 billion and continuing to expand amongst players who enjoy taking a break from standard digital games to enjoy real life connections while in pursuit of an adventurous tale and journey.
Nothing drives continued progress more than customer demand—and especially when it comes to recreation. The notion of playing games is as old as the human race itself, allowing individuals to connect, whether playing an ancient precursor to chess with hand carved pieces, or connecting in person to play a tabletop game, made all the more colorful with 3D printed characters.
Spanning every culture, games offer a shared space for relaxing with family and friends. Gaming today offers infinite possibilities for exploring new digital realms, roaming make-believe worlds. This is especially true in role-playing games (RPGs) where players live vicariously through their characters, engaging in fascinating experiences and acting out scenarios that would not be possible in real life.
Although games like Dungeons & Dragons originated in the 70s they are more popular than ever, experiencing a huge resurgence propelled by the ability to engage and meet online.
Rapid Prototypes for Quality Product Development
3D printing offers many important features, beginning with the ability to customize and design products that may never have been possible before with traditional manufacturing. The original intent of 3D printing, however, was in rapid prototyping–a process that can be highly beneficial in 3D printing for gaming.
Although 3D printing technology has grown immensely, evolving into the use of additive manufacturing for high-performance parts in critical applications, the ability to create 3D printed models for testing and perfection still offers a great advantage. The process is economical and fast, allowing for fast changes and as many iterations as necessary for the product development process. Prototyping also allows for easier experimentation in terms of different materials for products associated with gaming, as well as choosing the most suitable type of technology for the design.
3D Printed Tabletop Characters and Miniatures
3D printing is a powerful element in the modern gaming world, where the need to connect with characters runs deeper than ever. Immersion into the character is a must for many tabletop gamers, increasing the excitement level further when everyone is using miniatures for better visualization and access into the heart of the story or journey. With the ability to customize to their heart’s content, gamers can bring their characters to life like never before, venturing forth in fantasy with 3D printed miniatures that match their characters precisely. Miniatures can also be created for durability and long-term gaming use, or as collectibles.
Previous to 3D printing, it was not uncommon for characters related to tabletop gaming to be produced via mass production or hand-sculpted from any variety of materials. Beyond that, many dedicated enthusiasts created miniatures by cutting and gluing different pieces and then hand-painted their characters too. While that type of work requires meticulous attention for quality pieces, up until recently many 3D printed characters were still hand-painted too. Such time-consuming work is no longer necessary with the ability to 3D print in exquisite color and detail. This includes exact color matching, and tools for shading and contrast.
Both the gaming industry and the 3D printing industry are accelerating at a rapid pace, and the intersection of the two leads to unprecedented efficiency and production. Shapeways continues to lead 3D printing for gaming solutions, bringing advanced materials and technology to the table for gamers and designers seeking durable products as well as more intense detail with materials like High Definition Full Color.
With access to more than ten million colors, High Definition Full Color is 3D printed with Material Jetting 3D printing technology. This process offers speed and precision, along with a wide range of impressive hues and textures. Exceptional surface finishes can be achieved, along with fine detail.
Create Custom Game Pieces, Boards, and Accessories
An astonishing array of game pieces can be 3D printed too; for example, parts for checkers games are fun and easy to create and customize. Chess pieces are a popular item to 3D print as well, but can be found in much more complex and artistic designs. Game pieces may be simple, elegant, and even ergonomic.
Simple or complex gaming boards can be made too, in any number of configurations, whether featuring interlocking pieces to be assembled, or even embedded electronics. Gaming dice, puzzle pieces, and parts for consoles are common designs too.
Advanced material like Nylon 12 [Versatile Plastic] and Selective Laser Sintering are good choices for a wide range of pieces and accessories, whether prototyping, creating functional parts, or both. With the ability to customize via 3D printing, completely original parts can be prototyped and created for years of use, and even handed down to other generations. These can even be turned into great 3D printed gift ideas!
Explore Other Material Options
With over 90 materials and different finishes available, high-quality 3D printing materials are a tremendous source of pride at Shapeways. Great care is taken in choosing all resources, as well as reaching out to new manufacturing partners and suppliers. Each material offering is unique, bearing its own technical specifications too.
To get the perfect look and feel for any 3D printed part, check out the material options that Shapeways offers. Each material listed notes the available finishing options to ensure that your aesthetic parts look good, and your functional parts perform how you need them to in the end.
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Enjoy the benefits of this advanced technology and a wide range of materials from Shapeways for 3D printing your creations with accuracy, complex detail, and no minimum or limits in terms of mass customization or single part orders. Shapeways has worked with over 1 million customers in 160 countries to 3D print over 21 million parts! Read about case studies, find out more about Shapeways solutions, and get instant quotes here.