Replicators, so familiar to fans of Star Trek, are about to become a reality. 3D Systems and Cubify.com are teaming up to introduce a Star Trek customized 3D printed collection. Fans, starting early this year, will be able to create personalized 3D printed products and collectibles based on the legendary franchise, starting with The Original Series. 3D Systems and Cubify.com will offer a preview of the Star Trek 3D printed collection during the Consumer Electronics Show, to be held January 8-11 in Las Vegas.
StarTrek.com spoke to Scott Harmon, Vice President, Corporate Development, at 3D Systems, who filled us in on how the replication process works and on what fans can expect to see.
How much like Star Trek's replicators is this?
Harmon: Regarding the replicators, this is a great analogy. Our technology is called a 3D printer. It does a really good job of replicating shape and color. It cannot, at least today, replicate materials like food or like Earl Grey Tea, although you may see a chocolate 3D printer coming down the line.
What Trek items can fans make/personalize? Give us a few examples, please.
Harmon: The first products will be crew members. We will be offering the ability to put your face on a Star Trek TOS figure. So, you send us two photographs and we’ll put your face on one of the Star Trek crew figurines. What you’ll get is a 6”-7” figurine or statuette that looks exactly like a character from TOS, but it’ll have your face on it. This is the first time anything like this has ever been done with a brand like Star Trek. You can get things like bobbleheads with your image on them, but that’s not quite the same as this. This is pretty special.
What is the name of the technology you’re utilizing? And, to be clear, people will be able to buy the output of the printer, not the printer itself, right?
Harmon: The machine we use to print the Star Trek figures is the ZPrinter TM 650. And, yes, they will be able to buy the products we make with the printer, not this particular printer itself. But it is worth noting that we sell a slightly different technology called, Plastic Jet Printer, PJP, in a home version called the Cube. Star Trek fans could think of that as sort of a home version of a first-generation replicator.
You’re starting with TOS and figurines. What else, Trek-wise, is in the works?
Harmon: As time goes on, we will add additional crew characters from more recent series, like The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. And there are other things we hope to do over time, like the customization of accessories, and maybe even ship customization.
How excited are you about all of this? And are you a Trek fan?
Harmon: I’m extremely excited. I think the fan community for Star Trek is a perfect match for our technology, and you could certainly make the argument that 3D printing was first envisioned from the idea of the replicator. And I'm definitely a fan. My mom loved TOS, so it was one of the few shows I got to watch as a kid. Also, just look at my name. Growing up, people said "Beam me up, Scotty" to me about a billion times. If I had a dollar for every time someone said that, I’d be rich. So being a fan was probably inevitable.