The Edge: 3D Print Your Favorite Game Character With Sandboxr

April 09, 2013 4 min read

Have you heard of Sandboxr? I met the team at GDC and saw their creations. This startup company lets you 3D print a figurine of your favorite game character and is currently raising funds on Kickstarter (their drive ends on April 11th, so hurry up and check it out!). Berkley Frei, the founder and CEO, tells us a bit more about how it all works and how you can sign up to license your designs.


Sandboxr at GDC

Novedge: Why Sandboxr?
Berkley Frei: I grew up in a small town and as a kid the sandbox was my favorite place to play.  You could make anything you wanted in the sandbox.  I wanted to replicate that experience with Sandboxr.  We allow people to play in a digital sandbox where they can unlock their creativity, really make one of a kind creations.  When they make something they are really proud of, they can have it printed in 3D and mailed to their house.  My hope is that people will spend hours perfecting their pieces. The experience is just as important as the final product.


Sandboxr Origins from sandboxr on Vimeo.

Novedge: What designers and/or companies have already signed up with Sandboxr to allow consumers to 3D print their designs?
Berkley Frei: I wish I could tell you everyone we are in talks with, but we are under non-disclosure agreements until the deals are finalized.  These are very exciting times.  However, we already have support from Super Villain Studios who have licensed awesome characters to us from their games Order Up and Tower Wars.  We also have a diverse group of independent artists that have uploaded their work, street artists, animators for big companies that are doing work on the side in Sandboxr.  We add more everyday.

Sandboxr _image-11-web

Sandboxr _image-07-web

Novedge: How can designers sign up with you?
Berkley Frei:  Right now we are still in our Beta phase, but if you have work in Maya file format that you would like to see on Sandboxr, contact with a link to your portfolio or examples of your work.  We would love to get your work up on our site.  We have a range of licensing options to make sure you maintain the ownership of your work.  You can specify how you want it to be used, set your own prices, the customization options, limited series runs, etc.  For more info, check out Sanboxr for Artists.  Once we have officially launched, artists will be able to upload content themselves just by visiting our site and following our guide to best practices.


Welcome to Sandboxr from sandboxr on Vimeo.

Novedge: What 3D printers do you use? Can someone 3D print designs from Sandboxr at home? 

 Berkley Frei:  We use professional grade industrial sized printers from Z-Corp that print in full color sandstone, which gives our pieces a nice weight and high resolution detail.  However, we hope to provide a variety of material and color choices in the near future.  We have made .STL export available to select backers on Kickstarter to test whether or not we will keep that functionality going forward.  There are licensing concerns with home printing that we still need to work out and we also want to protect the quality of the experience.  Home printers have a long way to go, but we are thrilled with what we are seeing and hope that one day everyone can easily print high quality pieces at home. 

Sandboxr _image-19-web

Novedge: What software do you use?
Berkley Frei:  We developed our own software for the app because no one has done what we are doing yet.  Basically we take the animation files, simplify the interface so that anyone can easily manipulate and customize their creation, automate the post-processing and conversion for printing so that you don’t have to be an expert to prep your models.  You just have to click print.


From Sandboxr to your Door from sandboxr on Vimeo.

Novedge: In his book Makers Chris Anderson compares 3D printing to the internet, for its revolutionary impact. What are the advantages of actually having more people participate in making products? How is 3D printing changing manufacturing?
Berkley Frei:   I haven’t read his book yet, but I agree with that assertion.  It is democratizing manufacturing.  The more people creating, the more creative we will get.  I think we will see the rise of designers that would otherwise have never had the resources to manufacture samples.  Right now we are in the early phases.  There is a lot of excitement, but I think there are many surprises ahead.  People will gravitate to things we never expected them to.  New ideas and innovations are coming out everyday.  It’s exciting.  The response to what we are doing has been amazing and there is so much more to come. 

Sandboxr _image-14-web

Novedge: What can we expect to see from Sandboxr in the future?
Berkley Frei: We want to be a community where skilled designers and animators can interact with their fans.  Right now the video game industry is really excited about us.  We are talking to developers that want to integrate Sandboxr into their games so that as people play the game, they can earn access to new characters, unlock accessories and build things in Sandboxr that only players can access.  We also expect to see artists experiment on Sandboxr.  There is so much potential for collaboration between artists or an artist with users.  I think when we open our doors to the public, we will be surprised with all the ways people will use Sandboxr.  It will be a great big experiment for all of us and I think the results will be amazing.


What are you waiting for? Donate to Sandboxr's campaign on Kickstarter, it ends in just a couple of days!

You can also request an invitation to join Sandboxr on their website and watch more cool videos on their Vimeo channel.

All the figurines in the photos above are Super Villain Studios Characters Posed and 3D Printed using Sandboxr.

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