Cast your minds back just twenty years ago; the comic book was the reserve of geeks and kids; 3D printing was rarely called such and was hidden away in laboratories; the premier tradeshow for comics ‘Comic-Con’ was attracting 30,000 and the premier 3D printing tradeshow, TCT was two years away from even existing.
Now both of the industries are big business, in 2009 the world’s largest Media Conglomerate, The Walt Disney Company, purchased the world’s largest comic book publisher, Marvel for a whopping $4 billion. Comic-Con International in San Diego this year is expected to attract 130,000 visitors, a capped attendance that that is to significantly increase in 2016 when a $520 million expansion to the San Diego Convention Center is completed.
One of the largest and the oldest 3D printing firm, 3D Systems are to exhibit at the four day San Diego Comic-Con International. 3DS will be showcasing its premier entertainment brand, the recently acquired Gentle Giant Ltd.
Gentle Giant creates visual effects for Comic-Con favourites in the Marvel franchise movies, as well as fandom king Star Wars and the cult television series The Walking Dead. Since the acquisition Gentle Giant now takes authentic digital content directly from the silver screen and converts that into high-end collectibles, jewellery and action figures.
3DS will also be showcasing their Cubify lifestyle brands such as the 3DMe Kiosk, in which users can be scanned and become their own 3D printed Star Trek and Walking Dead Figurines. As well as the 3DMe platform 3DS are bringing their consumer products such as Sense, iSense, 3rd Generation Cube and the CubePro 3D printer.
3D Systems’ presence alone at Comic-Con is another signifier of 3D printing’s ever growing presence in the mainstream consumer marketplace. If both comic books and 3D printing were niche 20 years ago, one thing is for sure, they certainly are no longer industries that appeal to a select few.