Canadian startup Formify is attempting to bring 3D printing to Esport’s biggest stage. The company is now 3D printing custom mice and has already sent its product to well-known YouTubers and Twitch streamers for reviews. This advancement could make custom rigs more accessible for gamers all over the world and continues to widen the use of 3D printing into the gaming world.
The gaming industry is a massive business and is projected to be valued at $200 billion by the end of 2022. Esports makes up a slice of that, around $1.38 billion, representing a small, but sizable chunk.
When Formify wanted to break into this market, it wanted to change how gaming mice were designed. Specifically, the firm wanted to address the lack of customization one can get when ordering a mouse. Right now, there is a one-size-fits-all approach when mass producing gaming mice. Yes, the mice become cheaper to produce this way, but you realize how much more control and comfort you have when gaming with a device customized to your hand. Those small differences may not matter to the casual gamer, but when you are in an arena playing DOTA 2 for a tournament pool prize worth $47.79 million, you are going to want the equipment that allows you to perform at your best.
So, Formify partnered with additive manufacturing service bureau Hubs.com and began to develop and manufacture its custom gaming mice. The two used Formify’s innovative hand mapping software and Hubs’ wide array of 3D printing machines to build prototypes. After iterating through many manufacturing methods, the pair ultimately landed on HP’s Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) to print the mice. This printing method allowed them to print the complicated hand meshes with the quality and specifications the top Esport gamers desire. The technology also offers the necessary throughout to drive down cost per part, demonstrating HP’s ability penetrate markets difficult to access by other technologies from a cost stand point.
Thus far, Formify has made and sent 15 beta products to gaming influencers on YouTube and Twitch, and plans on starting a Kickstarter campaign near the end of the year. Eventually, the company wants to sell its products to professional and casual gamers alike, and expand its product line to include office ergonomics and medical athletics as well.
If the company succeeds, it will be among the first to mass customize consumer goods in the sector, but this is far from the first use of 3D printed gaming equipment. One large area of development has been 3D printing gaming equipment for disabled persons. Caleb Kraft from Make Magazine, as well as Ben Heck and Akaki Kuumeri have been modifying equipment to widen the access of video games to more people. Most are non-destructive modifications that fit on top of the controller and can be modified to fit a range of needs. A few examples are shown below, and if you are curious to learn more, definitely get sucked into those cool rabbit holes.
This could be an avenue for Formify to explore in the future too. If it has the ability to take pictures of a person’s hand and build a customized mouse for that user, then it could also take that technology and manufacture a mouse/gaming rig for people with physical limitations. We would love to see gaming enjoyed by more people and Formify has the potential to make that a reality.
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