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Manufacturing a Spore Creature

May 23, 2009

Filed under: additive manufacturing,entertainment — Terry Wohlers @ 11:20

I’ve enjoyed talking about Spore and Spore Creature Creator over the past couple years. The game rolled out in September 2008. I’ve never played the game, but I have spent time with Spore Creature Creator—the software that allows you to produce creatures for the game.

Spore Creature Creator was developed to ensure that the creatures would be closed, 3D volumes—a requirement of additive manufacturing. This, coupled with its simple drag ‘n drop functionality, makes it fast and easy to produce a creature. With no experience whatsoever, I was able to create my first creature in a few minutes. What’s more, it was fun because the creature moves and makes sounds as you create it.

Three weeks ago, I spent a little extra time creating a Spore creature because I was planning to have it manufactured. After saving the creature, I went to sporesculptor.com and uploaded it. The process required only a few clicks. The cost to have one manufactured is $49, plus about $25 for FedEx shipping and $2 for handling. Six calendar days later, I had the creature in hand. You can see it here. I was happy with how it turned out.

The Help screen at sporesculptor.com states that it can 2-4 weeks to receive your Spore Sculpture. I needed it in time for a presentation, so I contacted the company, which likely expedited the order. I don’t know whether it actually takes 2-4 weeks under normal circumstances.

Electronic Arts, the makers of Spore and Spore Creature Creator, and Z Corp. (EA’s manufacturing partner) could not have made it easier. Stepping through the process shows you custom design and manufacturing at its finest.

If you’re interested in additional thoughts on Spore Creature Creator, enter “Spore” in the Search box at the right. It will display four additional commentaries that discuss the software.

14th Annual Report

May 9, 2009

Filed under: additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 21:27

I’m in a celebratory mood. Four days ago, we began to ship Wohlers Report 2009, a global study on additive manufacturing (AM). The week of publication, and the weeks leading to it, are more than full. The number of details that must come together can, at times, be a little overwhelming. However, the outstanding people that contribute make it all possible. This year, 54 co-authors from 18 countries provided a wealth of information on the subject. As much as I would like to believe I know what’s going on around the world, one person cannot provide the insight and effort of 54 people spread across four continents.

Support from service providers was also strong this year. Sixty-five companies, compared to 58 last year, provided input. These companies, spanning 15 countries, answered probing questions and provided details and perspective on their businesses. Service providers have been a fixture in the industry since additive manufacturing systems were first introduced in the late 1980s. Many of them continue to push the limits of AM technology and pioneer exciting, new applications. I am thankful for the amount of information these companies share.

Twenty-nine AM system manufacturers from 11 countries provided enormously helpful information on the performance of their companies over the past year. Without it, the report would not have the breadth and depth of detail that we believe it includes. I know it is not easy for some of the them to part with this information, but they understand that if they contribute and work in a spirit of cooperation, they will get more back in return. Much of the detailed information that is provided is kept secret, but it allows us to create and report composite totals and trends that would otherwise not be available for publication.

Coordinating and organizing with all of these people and companies can be a challenge, but it’s nothing compared to the satisfaction I get from all of their generous support. I hope the readers of the report also appreciate what has been provided. It is a gift from them to an industry in which they and others have developed a great deal of passion and excitement. My sincere thanks to everyone involved with this year’s edition.