Four ways to maximize your social media reach at a fan convention

A few weeks ago, we had the extreme pleasure of being exhibitors at RTX 2015, a weekend-long fan expo for the local Austin production company, RoosterTeeth. If you follow us on twitter and facebook (which you totally should if you don’t), then you no doubt saw all of our content from the event. We were tweeting and posting up a storm! Can you imagine if we had Instagram too? We really would’ve been on a roll. If we ever went to an event again, implementing this platform into our social media strategy would definitely be at the top of our to-do list. We should probably look for an Instagram growth service similar to to help us grow our account and increase our followers before trying it for the first time at an event. We want to give ourselves and the event as much exposure as possible, and it seems to have worked in our favor so far.

The upswing in our content developed naturally because we realized that we seemed to be engaging really positively with the RoosterTeeth community, so we just continued to post and post. When we’re working an event, we typically get a modest 6-12 favorites or retweets on a post. However, we were seeing some of our RTX tweets get into the 50s. This isn’t astronomical by some perspectives, but it was out of the norm for us.

Moreover, traffic on our website usually dips down over the weekend, even when we work and promote our company at an event. However, we found our RTX tweets drove our web traffic unusually high.

It’s definitely worth admitting that our social media activity could have spiked because the kind of people who attended RTX are social media savvy. RoosterTeeth for the most part, produces gaming-centered content for YouTube. Although they produce some animated series, several podcasts, and have recently expanded into live action shorts, I would argue that any of the gaming series on their Let’s Play channel are the studio’s bread and butter. The studio represents very talented game players who have successfully garnered a rabid, international fanbase.

RoosterTeeth releases and promotes new content online only, therefore, the fans are used to being tied into the studio’s online presence. Also, because their talent is comprised mostly of twitch streamers and voice actors (people who make money by playing video games online for an audience), the RoosterTeeth stars have cultivated a strong online brand, out necessity to be successful at what they do.

Even if we got a lot of web traction precisely because we were tweeting to a convention full of internet nerds (that’s a compliment), I would really like to think we were also doing a few things successfully on our end. I’m going to try and and see if I can’t nail those things down a bit, so that any other fan expo exhibitor could hope to have the same success we did.

Create a compelling piece for the event that will turn your booth into a destination

I think, by and large, the best thing we did was create a large, impressive print that we kept under wraps until a few days before the event. If you were keyed into our feed during RTX, then you saw the 6’x4′ scythe weapon our intern Jacob created especially for the expo.

This thing was going to be the perfect demo piece to show of Gigabot’s capabilities– it was huge and instantly recognizable. It would be really impressive if we could pull off making it.
Luckily for me, one of the interns we hired this summer was super artistic and a big anime/cosplay fan, so I knew he’d be a great fit for this project. I drafted him as “my” design intern and asked him to design, print and post-process the Crescent Rose, all from scratch. The whole process took from June to August, basically all summer.

Two days before RTX 2015, a bunch of us from re:3D visited the RoosterTeeth studios, under the guise of dropping off their Gigabot. However, I told Jacob to come with and to bring the scythe, which was nearly finished at this point. The prop was looking great, and I had a hunch the show creators and animators would absolutely love to see it. Spoiler alert– they did.

This took some planning, but it was worth it. In March, as soon as I found out we’d be exhibiting at RTX in August, I started researching their most popular content, hoping there would be 3D printable prop. To my great delight, the RoosterTeeth original anime, RWBY, features an awesome weapon, called The Crescent Rose.

This tweet from one of RWBY’s writers and voice actors got hundreds of likes, and was cross-posted to the RoosterTeeth subreddit, where it got a lot of attention. There, I was able to interact with the RoosterTeeth fans, answering questions about our printer and letting them know they could come see the scythe in person at RTX that weekend.

To my great surprise, people actually did come! I had several people ask if “that was the scythe from twitter”, and I was pleased to tell them that it was! When we got a fan to show up at the booth, they were able to take a photo on their phone with the prop, which made our booth into a sort of event photobooth, and it made us a destination on the exhibit floor.

Choose the perfect giveaway print

Once at the booth to see the scythe, we had to give the fans a reason to stay and talk to us. Luckily, that’s sort of easy when the product you’re pedalling is a washing machine-sized 3D printer. To keep RTX attendees engaged while visiting our booth, we did live prints of these little achievement hunter boxes:

As an added bonus, we could tell the fans that these boxes were available to win, all you had to do is sign up on our print giveaway sheet! We got a record number of email address that weekend– something like 500 names we could add to our monthly company newsletter. I credit this to the fact that I picked out the perfect giveaway print.

The Achievement Hunter box, which I found on TinkerCAD, was small enough to be duplicated several times over the course of the event, yet large enough to be useful. A grid print of 4 boxes took 6 hours, and we were able to complete the print about 4 times over the course of the weekend, which meant we were able to elect 16 winners all weekend. Attendee-goers saw a lot of potential in the print– it featured the logo of one of RoosterTeeth’s most popular shows, and it was large enough to hold change, dice or jewelry.

Remember, people attend fan expos with the intention of buying collectibles. If you do some research and find out what the attendees at the expo will be interested in, you will have a line at your booth at 6pm the day the exhibit hall closes full of people who are hoping they will be some of the final people able to get something for free!

Prepare original online content for the event

Predicting that a lot of the expo attendees would be interested in the info, we had Jacob write up a “How-To” blog on his scythe. We pushed the blog on Saturday, the day we were scheduled to have our panel on 3D printing and cosplay, since the two were thematically similar. Every time someone asked a question like “how long did it take to print?” or “how many pieces is it in?” we gave them a business card and directed them to check out the how-to blog.

Another thing that really drove traffic was posting a link to the blog on the RoosterTeeth subreddit. I knew that fans were active there, because I had been trolling the subreddit for months in preparation for the event. Also, since a fan has posted Miles’ tweet of our RoosterTeeth office visit, I knew the scythe would be recognizable there.

As you can see, the post was not highly upvoted or commented on. This could have been because of the time of day I posted it at, or because I came up with a lousy title. I was bummed by what I perceived as the failure of the post until Samantha checked our google analytics.

BOOM! Look at the stats on Jake’s blog (line #3). What’s more, most of the traffic was coming from Reddit. So, unless someone else posted a link to Jake’s blog on some other subreddit (I couldn’t find evidence of this but you never know), it was my post that did it. I learned something interesting that day– it doesn’t matter how someone votes your post on Reddit, they’re still going to click through to your site. I bet that if everyone who clicked through to our blog had also upvoted/downvoted the post, our Reddit post would have faired a lot better than it did!

Get your team on the immediate favs and re-tweets!

One interesting data point we gathered from working this event was that our tweets faired much better when our team was able to immediately fav and retweet the company tweets from their personal accounts. It seems that Twitter’s algorithm favors content that is IMMEDIATELY interacted with, just as much as content that is showered with likes and retweets through out the day. So, keep your team in the loop with your tweeting schedule so they can back you up from their accounts!

That’s really it when it comes to our engagement strategy! We were able to get some photos with RoosterTeeth influencers, but that was mostly luck that no one could take credit for.

I’m hoping the re:3D team can repeat and tweak these practices in order to really make every event a home run when it comes to audience engagement. Soon enough, those website hits will turn into Gigabot buys, mark my word! All-in-all, I would say you need to do your research. As soon as you find out where you’re going to be, research the audience, attendees and keynotes. What you find here will help guide all of your choices when it comes to demo pieces, giveaway prints, and event-specific content.

Best of luck!

Rebecca Reinhardt

Blog Post Author

The Special Story of Mike’s Squirrel Guardian

Here are re:3D, our motto is “Think Big, Print Huge”. With the aim of bringing FFF 3D printing off the table top into the factory, we manufacture big machines that can print human-sized tools. Isn’t it funny, then, that our teammate Mike Battaglia’s most popular file on Thingiverse   is a small statuette of a squirrel?

This squirrel statuette is actually a 3D scan of a real concrete statue Mike purchase from Marshalls in 2012. Mike figures he walked into the store that day to buy something completely inane, like some new towels or a bath mat. Little did he know he would discover so much more.

Although it was simple, this concrete squirrel statue spoke to him. He knew he had to have it, and because it had a tiny chip on it’s tail, it he was even able to haggle down the price.

The original squirrel was about one foot tall and lived on the back of Mike’s toilet in his apartment in Brooklyn. After a time, he began to dress it up, just to spice up the view from his urination station. One day, he decided he simply wanted more of them.

Mike got a real great scan of the statue from Autodesk’s 123 Catch, now ReCap Pro, sliced the file and fed it into his 3D printer. A few hours later, he had significantly increased his squirrel statue capital.

It is part of Mike’s workflow to put his designs up on a file sharing site like Thingiverse. He decided on the name “Squirrel Guardian”. The description he put was: “Print one squirrel for each room to watch over your house while you’re not there.”

How did Mike decide on this name and the description? In his own words:

“There already was a squirrel on Thingiverse, so I couldn’t just name it “Squirrel”. I also knew it seemed like a pointless piece, so I felt that if I gave this plastic object a job would make it seem like more than a trinket.”

The Squirrel Guardian struck a chord with Thingiverse users, and one by one the downloads stacked up. At the time of publication, this file has been downloaded 3610 times, and 40 of those users have printed the model and uploaded a photo of it to the site. Users from Russia to California to Austria have printed Squirrels in a variety of colors and sizes. There is a Squirrel Guardian so small it can sit on a penny, a Squirrel Guardian made into a night light, a Squirrel Guardian painted up in people clothes. One user scanned his own head onto the Squirrel’s body. This same user also made it a cannibal squirrel, where one squirrel is eating another squirrel.

In my mind, the most incredible use of the Squirrel Guardian is by the Thingiverse user Squirrel_Whisperer, also known as Tom Schuck outside of the internet. Tom is recovering from a stroke, which left him with a brain injury. Before his injury, Tom was a 6-figure IT executive, but unfortunately his injury has left him unable to work any more.

Instead of letting his brain injury and limited mobility dampen his attitude, Tom became determined  to reinvent himself. Tom decided his “new” self would be an author and an artist. His inspiration: squirrels.

Tom’s said his fascination with these furry friends came about when he decided to try bird photography. Instead, he found that squirrels were much cuter and much more fun to photograph than the flitty and flighty birds in his yard. From there, his appreciation for squirrels began to blossom.

Around the same time as Tom discovered his love of squirrel photography, his son bought a desktop 3D printer and introduced Tom to Thingiverse. There, Tom found Mike’s Squirrel Guardian file and began to print them. Being able to hold Squirrel Guardians in his hands allowed Tom to imagine his favorite animal in fantasy roles, and he has since written two fantasy novels with squirrels as the main characters. The photos he has uploaded to Thingiverse are Squirrel Guardians he has painted to represent the characters in these fantasy novels.

Because of users like Tom, the Squirrel Guardian has become so much more than a figurine you could place on the back of your toilet. Squirrels are now a crucial part of Tom’s new identity. Now, people will approach Tom and say, “I saw a squirrel and thought of  you.” Now, because of his son’s 3D printer and Mike’s Squirrel Guardian, Tom can have as many little squirrel figures as he desires. This is a good thing for a man who has taken to the noble pursuit of self-reinvention following a traumatic life event.


At re:3D, we try to print big, but I think what is most important to everyone on our team is that we print with a purpose. Sometimes, in the case of Mike’s Squirrel Guardian, the purpose of a print is unintended. He never could have imagined when he bought the original Squirrel Guardian from Marshalls that a man would use this same model to help him heal after a traumatic injury.

Mike’s Squirrel Guardian is not the most popular file in the history of Thingiverse, by any means. However, the Squirrel Guardian makes a compelling case for the usefulness of 3D printers, even ones at the desktop size. Too often I hear 3D printing skeptics and evangelists alike bemoan the fact that 3D printers are used only for the making of “trinkets”.  I believe that Tom’s story shows us that sometimes, these seemingly useless models can become extremely meaningful pieces in an individual’s life. Just because a model isn’t a tool or a part of a machine, it doesn’t mean it isn’t making someone’s life better.

Our Austin office is christened by Mike's 3D printed guardian squirrel

When re:3D’s Austin team moved into our new office, one of the first things we did was set up a Gigabot and kick off a print. We knew, without a doubt, the first thing we would be printing would be a Squirrel Guardian.


For questions about the file, you can reach

Rebecca Reinhardt

Blog Post Author

The 3D Printing Professional’s Guide to the Comic-Con Floor: What is cosplay and why should I care?

If you’re a 3D Printing news junkie like me, you’ve probably noticed the upswing in articles about prints inspired by comic books. What you may not know is that the act of dressing up as your favorite comic book character for fun has an official name: cosplay. Cosplay is not a new phenomenon by any means. People have been cosplaying for years, if not decades. Cosplay is a huge part of nerd culture, and when I considered the amount of overlap between the geek-o-sphere and the maker movement, I realized it was only a matter of time before I saw these kinds of prints gaining serious traction on my favorite 3D printing industry publications.

Picture by Photobucket

Having identified this community as a potential sales vertical, the re:3D team ran a booth at Houston’s Comicpalooza to test the waters. Being moderately tapped into the nerd network, I felt I knew what to expect to see at Comicpalooza. However, I noticed that many of my coworkers in the hardware world subscribe to the world of non-fiction, and therefore this culture rooted in fantasy and fiction was foreign to them.

After hearing the same questions over and over all weekend– what is cosplay? why do people dress up like this? why are WE at a comic convention?— I felt some education was in order, not only for my own team, but for the benefit of any industry professionals who might be reading our blog.

This post will hopefully serve as a short guide to those baffled by cosplay and how the community is using 3D printing technology.

“What is cosplay?”

Time for some concrete definitions.

Cosplay happens when a fan dresses up as a character from a comic book, anime, manga, sci-fi or fantasy series. If you’re looking for a technical definition, the best I found online was “The act of gathering raw and ready-made materials to create a 3D object from a 2D reference.” As an article of speech, cosplay can act as both a noun and a verb:

“I will be cosplaying Thor from the Avengers at the Comic Con this weekend.”
“Nice job, man! Your Batman cosplay is amazingly authentic!”

Literally, the word stands for “costume play,” which should give you an idea of the whimsical nature of this hobby. But don’t misunderstand, people take their cosplays seriously. Authenticity is highly important in cosplay. If you can accurately capture and emulate the appearance of a character, it shows you are truly knowledgeable about your fandom. Often, a fan will work on a single costume for months, just to get every detail exactly right. A good cosplayer will never debut their costume before they feel it is “ready” to be seen by other fans. For this reason, the highest compliment you can pay a cosplayer is to ask them one simple question: “Do you mind posing for a photograph for my blog?” The answer will always be, “Of course!” Cosplays are meant to be shared.

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Picture by Photobucket

“Why do people dress up like this?”

The same appreciation that drives a sports fan to wear a jersey to a live match drives a fantasy fan to cosplay. At nearly any celebration of a fandom (such as a midnight movie premier or a viewing party for the premier of a serialized television show) you will see people in cosplay. The idea is to embody your favorite character to show appreciation or deep knowledge of a series. There is, of course, a bit of escapism at play– what Star Wars fan wouldn’t want to be Han Solo for a day?

What’s more, the cosplayer relishes the challenge of creating something seemingly impossible—to recreate a real, human representation of a fictional character. A fair amount of craft and skill goes into cosplay. Many cosplayers are also full-time artists and consider cosplay a legitimate form of artistic expression.

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Picture by Photobucket

However, at the end of the day, I believe people are drawn to cosplay and Comic Conventions because of the community. A sense of acceptance and camaraderie is found amongst cosplayers on the Comic Con floor. It’s nerds admiring and appreciating the dedication of other nerds. You don’t get a sense of cliques– the Trekies don’t butt heads with the Star Wars devotees. Comic Conventions are celebrations of nerd culture. You go to meet friends, see celebrities, purchase collectibles, attend panels, and admire cosplay craftsmanship.

“Why are WE at a comic convention?”

In case it hasn’t been stressed enough, I’ll say it again: authenticity is key in a good cosplay. Because one can achieve a high level of detail and precision in CAD designs, and because many fantasy characters are born from graphic design anyway (i.e. video games, anime, cartoons), 3D printing becomes a very attractive option to the serious cosplayer looking to make a legit cosplay. Another benefit of 3D printing is that you can tinker with designs until you achieve custom fit when it comes to armor and props. What’s more, 3D printing filament is sometimes more affordable per cubic centimeter than traditional cosplay materials.

And, much to my relief, Comicpalooza attendees understood our presence in their space. I couldn’t tell you how many people took one look and Gigabot and said “Wow! You could make great costumes with that thing!” Something that blows my mind about the articles I referenced earlier is that those human-sized prints were made on printers with a relatively small build envelope when compared to Gigabot. The cosplay community recognizes the advantages of Gigabot’s massive build envelope, and I hope they’ll be quick to adopt our technology.

Where do we go from here?

The long and short of it is that 3D printed costumes and props are accurate, affordable, and increasingly common sights on the ComicCon event floor. Though it’s still a bit too early to tell, I think I can say that re:3D’s first foray into the cosplay community was a success. As I have seen our friends in the community sponsor cosplay artists and ask them to appear on their behalf at industry events, I wouldn’t be surprised if we began to see them appear alongside us at nerd culture events. We have all but finalized a booth at a second ComicCon in Austin this coming August, so stay tuned for more details on that as it is finalized. If you missed out on our giveaways at Comicpalooza, this could be your chance to enter to win again!

Picture by Photobucket

If you would like to chat about 3D printing and cosplay, feel free to give me a shout at, or find me on twitter @rpr_rebecca. I’d love to explore this more with you!

re:3D’s Behind the Prints: The Saturn V Rocket

If you were out and about during SXSW Interactive, it’s possible you saw two flightsuited people running around downtown Austin with a nearly 5’ tall model of the seminal Saturn V, the rocket used in the Apollo program to bring human beings to the moon. We turned a lot of heads while toting this print around, which inspired us to share the story of how this Saturn V rocket came to be.

This was a print intended for the July 2014 contest on the r/3Dprinting subreddit. To enter the contest, all someone had to do was print and assemble the rocket and upload a photo of their print to the sub. There were no requirements for size, material or layer height– that’s where the entrant was free to exercise some creativity.

The model, designed by Real Absuridity, was really cool. It was realistic,  detailed, yet tricky in that it had snap-together pieces that required no glue. Considering our roots at NASA, the print struck a chord with our Houston team, and they decided to give it a go.

Our rocket was printed in 5 parts, using PLA plastic. It ended up being 58.5” tall and 8.2 lbs. Here’s a breakdown of what went into each of the 5 pieces:

  • Top piece- 23″ tall, 6″ base. Print time: 29 hours, 41 min.
  • 2nd down from the top- 14″ tall, 6.5″ base. Print time: 36 hours, 11 minutes.
  • 3rd down from top- 10″ tall, 6.5″ base. Print time: 21 hours, 23 minutes.
  • Bottom piece- 13.5″ tall, 6″ base. Print time: 33 hours, 41 minutes.
  • Base section of the platform- 22” x 16” x 6”. Print time: 122 hours, 44 minutes

That’s a total print time of 243 hours and 40 minutes! The print went off without a hitch, despite the length of the print. Lastly, the rocket was painted and decorated to look more authentic, and then we declared it finished.

We got a late start on the contest, and underestimated how long the print would take, so we finished everything after the reddit contest was over. None the less, this was a fun project, we’ll be on the look out for future contests that spark our imagination.

Thanks for reading!