#3DPRINTING : #clones and self-portraits, adventures in 3d printing and 3d scanning

From awn.com :

3D technology with near-infinite possibilities. As I mentioned in a previous post, stop-motion animation studio LAIKA has been utilizing 3D printed faces for their films The Boxtrolls and ParaNorman. 3D printing’s usefulness isn’t just limited to the entertainment industry however; NASA recently transmitted files from Earth to the International Space Station to print up a socket wrench, whereas before they would have had to send up another rocket with the parts onboard. There have been medical applications too, with people creating 3d printed limbs for amputees; and doctors have been utilizing 3D scanning and printing of parts of the human body to devise solutions to various maladies or injuries. Naturally the most useful application is within the sex industry, where custom “toys” can be made in the privacy of your own home. I knew there was a good reason to get my head scanned last year…

When I joined the Nice Shoes Creative Studio team in early 2014, we found we shared an interest in 3D printing, and saw a way to explore this technology while crafting a fun promotional item for the company. Our motto is “We make stuff” and so felt that a kit made up of items that represented the skills and services would be a fun way to market ourselves. We all remember the Tamiya army sets we had grown up with, so based our designs around that.

The first thing we needed was to get 3D scans of ourselves. Luckily, the Museum of Art and Design (MAD) was showcasing an exhibition on 3D printing and was offering free full-body 3D scans via a partnership with Shapeways. Shapeways scanned us using a rig comprised of a turntable and a modified Microsoft Kinect system. We were then able to access our scans via their site, printing a few models to see how they came out, and also downloading the files so we could incorporate them into the design of our kit.

The 3D scans weren’t quite detailed enough to get the features of our faces correctly, so I used Autodesk’s free “123D” software to compile photographs of our heads into 3D geometry. As this is not an exact science, there were some interesting results. My personal favorite was the “Toby Jug” version of my head. A massive amount of ZBrush sculpting and clean-up was therefore required.

I built the kit itself in Softimage, and we then began the process of uploading the design to a number of 3D printing sites in order to get quotes. Because of the intricate and delicate nature of the kit, we found that some vendors wouldn’t even attempt a test print. Others gave us extremely high quotes. Where we found the most success was with Shapeways, as they worked with us to make sure our design was absolutely water-tight (a 3D printing term meaning there were no holes in surface), and that it wouldn’t break. Throughout this process I learned that creating models for printing was very, very different from what had to be done for rendering them. When rendering 3D for TV commercial and feature film, one is always obsessed with what is seen on screen. It is similar to an artist painting a picture; the artist doesn’t care about what isn’t seen on the canvas. If a character is only seen from the waist up for example, I may not even make any legs, its just a waste of time. The world of 3D printing is different, you see everything from every angle. The technology is also quite picky, it likes perfectly constructed models whereas rendering is far more robust with what models you render and many quick fixes go unnoticed.

Our extensive research lead us to coming up with another application of 3D printing. Our Halloween party was coming up, and its usually an event that people go all out for. Our guests and employees always come up with such wonderful costumes, so we decided to scan and print up full-color figures of the winners of the traditional costume contest. Shapeways was happy to help us in this regard, and set up shop in one of our rooms.

Their set-up was very simple. They brought a couple of lights as well as an iPad with scanning software. Once they established a bounding box, they would carefully scan each guest from top-to-bottom in a circle in order to accurately capture all the details of each person’s costume. Guests could also view a live preview of the render on a monitor once they were scanned.

It was a fun opportunity to introduce our clientele to this new technology, and see how it might be utilized as a promotional tool for one of their brand clients. It was also helpful in seeing what details did and didn’t come through (due to either the complexity of the costume or the level of inebriation of the guest).

Did we utilize 3D scanning and printing to create a high-end party favor? Yes, but if the sex industry can do it, so can we.

For more information check out the article on awn.com here.