We are amazed with all the products that continue to come from designers’ imaginations and out of the printers. While 3D modeling takes some skill, we’ve seen a number of people take that mastery to the next level by creating apps that make 3D printing truly available to everyone. One of our favorite (and successful) examples we’ve seen is Hero Forge, a web-based app that lets you customize tabletop miniatures and statuettes.


Photo courtesy of Gnome Stew

In 2014 Hero Forge started a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign to get their project off the ground. “Going to Kickstarter for funding was a no-brainer. Kickstarter has an incredibly passionate gaming community that’s been jump starting role-playing and miniatures projects for years. We really couldn’t have predicted just how amazingly supportive our backers would be, though. We ended up hitting our initial goal within the first three days of our campaign then went on to unlock nine stretch goals. It was exciting to say the least.”

From there, the team got started building their site, including their customizer engine, which is a truly amazing experience for customers. Forget just picking a gender and adding some armor; with their app you can choose between genres, different heads with expressions, eyebrows, horns, clothing that ranges from headwear to capes to different feet and more. You can also choose different accessories and the base you want.

At the start, Hero Forge designers were familiar enough with the 3D printing process to know about how specific materials would work with their vision. With such a range of materials available from Shapeways, it’s imperative to design for materials, ensuring customers receive complete, detailed, unbroken products. At launch, Hero Forge offered the characters in White Strong & Flexible and Frosted Ultra Detail.


From there, they’ve upped their game (no pun intended) and added Steel and Bronze to their material library, allowing for more a more durable figurine.


With an awesome customizer engine, and variety of materials and price points under their belts, the Hero Forge team has really made the most of their app. Now the focus is on getting the word out, which include a Twitch Livestream – the perfect platform for them as it is literally full of gamers watching and engaging in live gaming entertainment.

It’s amazing to be a part of these stories, and more amazing to see how the Hero Forge team took their idea and not only got it off the ground, but have been able to take next steps and add materials, branding, etc. All of this allows their customers to get a taste of the power of 3D printing and customization, without the common barriers one might be faced with when getting involved in 3D modeling.

Follow Hero Forge’s progress on Facebook and Twitter.

Try Hero Forge

If it’s not miniature characters you’re looking for, take a look at our library of apps also powered by 3D printing with Shapeways. From pet figurines to beautiful jewelry, there are plenty of designers creating apps to fit everyone’s needs! Do you have an app you’re building or one you’d like to see? Let us know in the comments.