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  • 2019CarolanPhD

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Toyetic tooling: 3D printing and convergent media platforms

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Natasha Carolan
Publication date30/09/2019
Number of pages456
Awarding Institution
Thesis sponsors
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Award date30/09/2019
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This research addresses convergence of 3D printing with digital games and media products and outlines opportunities for development in production of media related goods including toys and merchandise. It does this principally through a field study involving participatory access to MakieLab, a start-up using 3D printing in the production of user-generated, 3D printable toys directly related to game content. This study incorporates participant observation, a survey of prospective consumers and a netnography of online 3D printing repositories. The netnography investigates user interactions with media content enabled by 3D printing and finds emerging forms of fan-production and a related economy of fan-produced, 3D printable goods. Here the research contributes to gaps in understanding of what people are making with 3D printing, providing insights into what media products people reference, what they make and why. Noting the legally ambiguous status of fan activity and research momentum aimed at creating legislative responses to inhibit such activity this research presents MakieLab as an example of a market based alternative. The research describes MakieLab as a convergent media platform and documents how MakieLab designed products and platforms to facilitate fan production and to co-opting or commodotise fan production. This research contributes understanding of how 3D printing may provide new revenue streams for media producers and facilitate engagement between firm and consumer. The research finds in conclusion that 3D printing in conjunction with automated translation of game, film or animation content to user editable and 3D printable formats has potential to alter relationships between media firm and consumer. In doing so it identifies a role for 3D printing in transmedia, implications for evaluations of toyetic or merchandise potential, potential for between-media interactivity, in-media merchandising and development of convergent media platforms, commodification of fan art as well as commodification of creative making experiences. The research concomitantly considers implications for stakeholders involved in production of media related toys and merchandise indicating that convergent media platforms are likely to have significant impact for media producers.