Christina Guo is the founder of U-Dimensions. She attended OCAD University and graduated with a Bachelor of Material Design, and a minor in Communication Design. She also obtained a Leadership Certificate from the University of Toronto of the business and professional management program. She began the U-Dimensions project during her undergraduate thesis year as her thesis was on allowing users to design and personalize 3D figurines that reflect and resemble their unique identities.
Christina, could you let us know about your background and what brought you to 3D printing in the first place?
I graduated from OCAD University in 2015 with a Major in Material Design and Minor in Communication Design. During my entrepreneurial journey, I studied Leadership Essential at the University of Toronto to improve my management skill. I began this concept during my undergraduate thesis year, while I was struggling with how to approach a successful career after graduation. The idea of creating your future identity and wearing your dream in a physical form as a personal reminder of your goals was born from my own desire and struggle to achieve my dream. The concept of converting 2D illustration into 3D printed products was the result of years of study and expertise in both 2D and 3D design.
My thesis project is now called Little You and can be checked here: It allows users to design and personalize 3D figurines that reflect and resemble their unique identities. At first, I used WordPress to create a user-friendly platform that allows customers to select and add different costumes to personalize their 2D figures. They also have the freedom to change the color, shape and add different accessories. Advanced options include adding words and images to decorate their figures. After the completion of the design process, I manually extruded their 2D design into a 3D model that can be printed using a 3D printer. For Print, the website offers a variety of materials, such as metal, plastic, and full-color sandstone.
After I graduated, I got directly accepted into OCAD imagination Catalyst and from there, I started to build the company. The first workshop I learned was to determine the problem and I realized the business idea I had didn’t have a problem and nothing to be solved, so I went through many research and investigations and saw a big gap in the market for 3D printed toys and from there U-Dimensions was born.
What was your very first experience with 3D Printing?
I studied material design at OCAD University and we started learning Rhino in 3rd year, which is a tool to design 3D models. We had an FDM printer in school, I was amazed by the result of 3D printing and I knew this will be big.
You founded U-Dimensions in 2015. Can you tell us a bit more about the company and the services/products you are providing?
U-Dimensions has developed a free platform, which helps game companies to increase, and expand their merchandise line while at the same time gaining extra profit from their games. Game companies manage an online storefront for each of their existing games, with their fans being able to customize the game company’s given design, before having it custom 3D printed, and sent to their door. This process is done without personal involvement from game companies, all while reaching a wider audience, and gaining a commission per each sale. U-Dimensions take care of all drop shipping and customer service.
On our website, fans can customize the size and material of each product, as well as having the ability to change colors, add accessories, and decide on the function – it can be a charm, necklace, earrings and more. The possibilities are endless. In turn, the platform allows video game companies to control what customization elements they want to offer to their fans, what their commission is, and how many video game characters they want to sell per individual video game. Our platform is the only one on the market that allows video game companies, and their fans to work together on merchandise options. Overall, our goal is to revolutionize the manufacturing industry by 3D printing everything and produce every commercial good unique and customized.
Why targeting specifically video-games?
Based on extensive research, we have discovered that 92% of indie game companies want to sell 3D printed merchandise based on their games. Unfortunately, these companies face many obstacles when attempting to provide their fans with accessible, affordable and high-quality merchandise. Time and budget constrains, as well as a lack of resources, and expertise in the field creates major roadblocks. Making, and nurturing connections with suppliers, managing web-stores as well as being in charge of distribution are near impossible to do as a small company without the expertise or budget. In the chance that they do offer merchandise, it is often limited in choice, quality, and price point. This opens an opportunity for a service to bridge this gap.
Based on another result of over 1000 individual survey responses focusing on the improvement of today’s game merchandise market, U-Dimensions has found that over 80% of fans are interested in 3D printed video game merchandise. Most of our customers are buying mass produced game merchandise through online purchase and in-store now, but 54% of fans feel limited in the availability and variety of game merchandise, noting that majority of merchandise is “childish looking”. 52% said that there should be a wider price range, and 46% noted that game merchandise should be of better quality.
What are the technical challenges when extracting the data from a video game?
We are using Drupal 7 for the basic E-commerce portion, added a lot of self-developed code and plugins to develop this online marketplace. Our developments include UX designs, client profile management tool, customer metrics system, moving/scaling/rotating/ coloring 3D models, Import/export texture files, commission calculation, imagery capture, merge files into a printable format and many other functions.
The most technical challenge is the import/export of the customer’s creation. Our system needs to first read game companies’ data and display the model on the website, then a customer will change the size, color, and position of the model, our system needs to memorize the creation and converted it into a solid obj. file and export back to our server for us to print the model out.
Do you have any (fun or not) story about the company or your career to share with us?
I have a funny video that I created for my thesis project (Little You) and that’s the first reason why I started the company.
Have you run into any challenges from being a woman entrepreneur in 3D Printing?
Although male founders run most game companies, there are a few female developers involved in the community. I have to admit there are more male interested in the game sector, our 3D printing suppliers are males as well. I personally don’t find gender, in this case, matters a lot. Our goal is to help game companies generate revenue and to be advocators for the 3D printing industry. They know we are doing the right thing and they are happy to help.
What is the most impressive or impactful use of 3D printing you’ve seen so far?
I think color printers have the most impressive printing result, such as Projet660, Strategies J750, and Mcor printers. Those industrial printers can print any color you want, it can even print a full colored picture. In addition, the smallest size it can print is 2mm and the quality is equivalent to large models. Also, I think customization is one of the greatest features that separate 3D printing from mass-produced products, it can print 100 totally different models at the same time while traditional manufacturing can only produce the same product with one batch.
What do you consider game-changing technologies in Additive Manufacturing?
Aside from color prints, I think the idea of creating physical objects by printing layers of raw materials is a game changer technology. The fact that is on demand help reduce waste and cut down carbon emissions. I think there are many benefits to 3D printing and its potential is tremendous.
What makes the 3D printing industry particularly interesting for you?
As a designer, I was always amazed by the technology of 3D printing. The fact I can design anything using the software and have it printed in real life is so unbelievable.
What do you think of the 3D printing industry today? And how would you like to see it evolve?
In Canadian, 3D printing revenues have been increasing since 2014, in which CAD $33.5M were made in revenues. By 2019, this number is projected to increase to $118.2M. I think there are more and more companies like us is adopting 3D printing technology and more inventors have started to explore the possibilities with 3D printing. From inventing new materials for the machine to develop new technology for the system.
In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with 3D Printing?
I think women would draw attention to the fashion, art and food industry. 3D print can evolve those industries by 3D printing cloth, arts, and food in a unique way. If we constantly share and promote unique products that were made using 3D printing technology particularly in those industries, women would be interested to know more and eventually, they will be more likely to involve with 3D printing. Also, sharing articles about women entrepreneurs who made an impact on the society by adopting 3D printing technology would also influence others to be part of this trend.
Favorite 3D tool (could be a software, machine, material…you name it)? Projet660
Favorite moment in your day job? Checkmark the tasks I’ve accomplished today
What’s on your 3D Printing wishlist for the next 5 years? Purchase Ultimaker 2, Formlab and any other new desktop printers that prints high quality, unique and durable products.