As Esports continue to grow, custom gaming components and accessories are becoming a major business opportunity for 3D printing service providers. Canadian start-up Formify has developed a personalized gaming mouse designed to enhance gaming performance. The company used MJF 3D printing technology and teamed up with 3D printing experts at Hubs (part of global AM service provider Proto Labs) to bring this idea to life.
The global Esports market is reported to be worth over $1.3 billion in 2022, with hundreds of gamers worldwide. As the industry is set to reach further heights in 2023, Formify saw an opportunity that could change the future for players and gaming enthusiasts.
Working with 3D printing experts from Hubs.com, Canadian start-up Formify developed and intends to manufacture custom-fitting and lightweight ergonomic gaming mice, to help enhance player comfort and control.
Alex Cappy, CEO of Hubs, said: “Gaming is an enormous market that’s intrinsically tied to consumer electronics manufacturing. However, personalized design is still not an essential part of manufacturing for gaming. This presented an opportunity to the Formify team to bring unique, custom products to an industry sorely in need of such hardware innovation.
“Our wide range of 3D printing technologies allowed Formify to swiftly prototype and perfect its design, while our extensive MJF capacity supports the start-up’s ability to scale and produce large quantities of personalized products.”
Formify, which is set to formally launch in November, got its start when Will McLaughlin and his university peers discovered a significant gap in gaming and esports. Peripherals like mice and VR headsets were one-size-fits-all. According to MacLoughlin: “By comparison, in every other athletic industry, you have different sizes of pads and shoes.
“It’s ridiculous that there is only a one-size-fits-all mouse for esports. If you tried to play a game on a million-dollar stage, which a lot of people are doing now, it just doesn’t make sense for everyone to use the same mouse.”
Formify’s idea to address this challenge was to develop a software platform that would transform a photo of a hand into a form-fitting mouse design. The concept works by submitting a photograph of your hand, allowing the team to analyze the shape, bone and joint structure to design a product that provides maximum comfort and speed.
The next step would be to use 3D printing to produce the mouse itself, as other manufacturing processes generally used for electrics, such as injection molding, are better suited for higher volumes of identical parts from both cost and design standpoints.
After testing nearly every type of 3D printing technology available, Formify settled on Multi Jet Fusion (MJF). “Thousands of points on the mesh [product surface] had to be unique,” Will told Hubs.com, “MJF was the only technology that could achieve the fully-customizable shapes we were looking for.”
Working with Hubs helped the Formify team develop the product faster and find the optimal 3D printing technology along the way. Together, they were able to manufacture 15 MJF-printed beta products and send them to professional gaming influencers on YouTube and Twitch.
The company is now set for a Kickstarter launch later this year, with the hope of scaling up to offer personalized mice to casual and professional gamers, and offices looking for ergonomic peripherals.
3D printing with MJF has been an essential part of Formify’s story. The manufacturing technology produces superior surface finishes than other 3D printing processes as well as injection molding and allows for larger batches of one-off parts, which is key to making personalization far more accessible.
MJF also allows for far more complex geometries, which enables Formify to achieve a high level of personalized detail. The materials used in MJF are also quite sturdy, so Formify can print with less of it and get the mice to weigh as little as 55 grams without sacrificing strength.
Presently, Formify is preparing for its upcoming Kickstarter campaign, getting the custom mouse into the hands of more Youtubers and Twitch streamers in the meantime. The hope is to rapidly scale production with Hubs and start sending personalized peripherals to users within the gaming community and across many other industries.
Formify aspires to create other types of personalized products, such as virtual reality headsets, and venture further into office ergonomics and medical athletics.