While additive manufacturing (AM) has become an important part of the design and production process for any number of industries, such as aerospace and dental, it is only just becoming part of public consciousness. Companies like Shapeways are fueling individual interest by offering on-demand manufacturing for everything from jewelry to cell phone cases.
Now, a new startup called Sandboxr is looking to bring the freedom of creativity offered by 3D printing into your home. Unlike Shapeways, which might be described as a general clearinghouse for 3D designs, Sandboxr wants its customers to explore the possibilities of 3D design using pre-generated CAD files that can be mixed and matched to build unique products.
In places of cell phone cases, Sandboxr is focusing on the modeling opportunities offered by AM. Users can create miniature monsters, homicidal henchmen and any other sort of character design that captures the imagination. You can almost think of the service as a home version of the work done by such companies as McFarlane Toys, which brought in $30.3 million in sales in 2011.
To assist customer creativity, the company has built a design application that has as much, or as little, depth as each user desires. Each model comes with attach points that allow a user to add to the design by attaching additional parts from Sandboxr’s library. Models can be scaled, and each has a skeleton that allows specific joints to be manipulated to create a unique pose. Alternately, the application runs an animation sequence that generates poses automatically.
Traditionally, 3D design is expensive, highly-complex, and comes with a steep learning curve. The majority of people out there just do not have access to the necessary expertise. But we’re here to change that. 3D design and animation are fun, and we’ve found a way to make them easy enough for even young kids to enjoy—and we think their technologically-challenged parents just might have some fun, too. — Sandboxr
Once a customer is happy with their creation, they order a print and the completed, full-color product is shipped to their home. Currently, Sandboxr is looking to buy more 3D printers and has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund its expansion. I suspect that even if the campaign doesn’t generate enough interest to move the company forward, the application design might find its way to another company.
Below you’ll find a couple of videos about Sandboxr.