The Syfy Channel’s “Syfy Labs” (their new tech division) has partnered with MakerBot so that viewers can 3D print content from the network’s science fiction and fantasy programming. To kick things off, they’ve uploaded design files to Thingiverse for the ships, helmets, and some swag from the network’s new space opera, The Expanse.
It is sort of surprising that more of this hasn’t happened already. Especially for programs that have cool hardware like space ships, futuristic weapons, magical objects, etc., it seems a natural to have these artifacts available for downloading. Four years ago, when I was covering San Diego ComicCon for Make:, MakerBot was there. Brilliantly, I thought, they’d covered their display tables with what was probably every cool sci-fi/comic book printable they had available on Thingiverse at the time. Everybody walking by, most who’d obviously never seen a 3D printer before, invoked the Star Trek replicator in their reaction. I thought to myself, oh man, this is going to be big, this marriage of sci-fi/fantasy media and 3D printing. I flashed on a future where you could download costumes for cosplay, ships in a sci-fi show for tabletop gaming, magic relics from a fantasy show for use in role-playing games, and so on.
Looking at the quality of these prints gives you a little clue as to why this hasn’t exactly taken off yet. The average home 3D printer still produces a low-res, less than compelling model. And, frankly, the ships on The Expanse aren’t all that sexy. But one can still imagine, in a few years, this ability to download all sorts of fun, even useful artifacts from the media that we consume will likely become commonplace.
For The Expanse, so far, you can download The Canterbury, the giant ice freighter central to the plot of the show, The Knight, the Canterbury’s shuttle, The Donnager, pride of the Martian Navy, The Rocinante, a ship that debuted in episode five, a space helmet, a figure from the show, and logos for The United Nations, Star Helix Security, the Martian Congressional Republic Navy, Tycho Station, and the show’s logo. The only other Syfy show that currently has downloadables is an alien skull from the new show Hunters.