About three months ago I reported on 3DPrint, a Tunisia based 3D print shop and service, as proof that 3D printing is taking hold in North Africa and generally is giving an opportunity for local industrialization to many developing nations. In fact Tunisia is moving even faster than that on 3D printing and a new project by Tunisian start-up NewGen, in collaboration with the local In-HATT 3D printing service, demonstrates that the technology is rapidly taking hold on a hi-tech consumer level, even more so than in many European nations and the US.
NewGen is the Tunisian start-up that won the Tunisia Microsoft Imagine Cup, a global, annual student technology competition that Microsoft has been organizing since 2003. It did so by presenting a video game based on ecological sustainability, toying with the idea of taking objects from the real world into the virtual 3D world. As national winners, they qualified for the globe semi-finals: the Panarab Microsoft Imagine Cup, held in Doha last June 1st to the 4th.
To compete on the bigger stage they knew they had to make an impact with their presentation so they evolved the concept of taking physical objects into the real world to that of taking virtual characters out of the screen and into physical reality. To do it they turned to 3D printing. In-Hatt modelled and coloured the four main characters in the game (Wolf, Zombie, Dragon and Ghost) in Zbrush and then they simply 3D printed them out with their ZPrinter 650 in about two hours.
The team at NewGen was enthusiastic with the result, which they then implemented directly in the gameplay to close a virtuous cycle (virtual to physical to virtual to physical) and so were the Panarab Imagine Cup judges that awarded the small start-up team with the second place in the tournament. This means they will not take part in the Global Finals in Seattle but there is little doubt that everyone involved came out on top, especially 3D printing. “We believe in youth capabilities – said In-Hatt’s Fahmy Hattay – and we enjoyed helping them till the end. With 3D printing we achieved the impossible!”