Jan 26, 2016 | By Kira

Whispering Gibbon, a Newcastle 3D printing startup named as one of the 50 most creative businesses in English, has just received a six-figure investment led by Northstar Ventures for its patent-pending RenderFab technology, which converts digital video game content into optimized 3D printable models. Through RenderFab and GrabIt, its end-to-end 3D print merchandising platform, Whispering Gibbon’s goal is to become a leading player in 3D content, by bringing virtual content into reality through the power of 3D printing.

James Foster, investment manager at Northstar Ventures, left, with Joe Stevens, CEO of Whispering Gibbon

Models and figurines are a huge part of the video game merchandise market, and just as video games have dramatically evolved in the past few years, so too has the demand for original, personalized, and high-quality merch that brings gamers’ on-screen avatars into the physical world. 3D modeling and 3D printing technologies have enabled users to generate and 3D print customized video game figurines with relative ease—but only up to a certain degree.

As Whispering Gibbon’s founder and CEO Joe Stevens explains, when 3D models are generated directly from video games, the information shown on-screen is oftentimes incomplete. “You’re looking at a game character, say, that purports to be 3D, but with a virtual image much of the information about what actually makes up that 3D structure is missing – the game only needs enough data to produce an image on the screen.”

3D printable models, however, require much more information. This additional data can be generated on a bespoke basis by experienced individuals or dedicated 3D modeling companies. Alternatively, companies such as Amazon and Sandboxr have partnered to offer professional, customized 3D printed models to a larger audience—yet only from a small selection of video games.

Whispering Gibbon’s proposed solution is to make complete, 3D printable video game characters, customized user-generated content and live-in game cpatures, taken from nearly any franchise, accessible to just about anyone, thanks to its patent-pending RenderFab technology.

RenderFab was designed specifically to convert objects optimized for visual display, (i.e., video game content), into models optimized for 3D printing. According to the company, it is the only fully automated system to guarantee the structural and visual integrity of any model whilst minimizing cost and material usage. Essentially, it is an automated process for ‘filling in the blanks’ and enabling at-home gamers to make accurate, real-life 3D prints of what, until now, has only existed on-screen.

Based in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Whispering Gibbon is comprised of a small yet passionate and highly experienced team specializing in 3D graphics and rendering engine development, with over 60 years’ experience building technology behind some of the biggest franchises in the video games industry. The company graduated from the first UK Microsoft Ventures Accelerator, and has gone on to make the Develop 100 list in 2015, and now the Creative England 50 list.

“I founded Whispering Gibbon after working as a developer on international franchises such as Ghost Recon, Formula One and Driver. I wanted to focus on building technologies that bridge the gap between virtual and physical content,” said Stevens. “The investment and support we have received from Northstar Ventures have allowed us to develop a unique platform that will bring user generated merchandise to the gaming market.”

“We’ve already begun trials with gaming and virtual reality companies,” he added. “Plus we have a distribution deal with one of the world’s biggest 3D printing companies.” 3D printing giant Shapeways is named as one of Whispering Gibbon’s partners.

“Whispering Gibbon constantly impresses with its ability to identify new markets and innovative ways to use 3D printing technologies,” said James Foster, investment manager at Northstar Ventures. “The investment from the Finance for Business Proof of Concept Fund will enable it to strengthen the team, aid product development and launch the Grabit platform.”

Following the six-figure investment, Matthew Wiggins, an experienced veteran in the 3D printing and gaming industries, will join the Whispering Gibbon team in the role of non-executive director.

I’m excited to be joining Joe and the team,” said Wiggins. “They are working in a very interesting space and have developed groundbreaking technology that has the potential to not only disrupt existing manufacturing models, but build an entirely new market for 3D printing and merchandising.”



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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