3D printed figurines – or miniatures – of oneself are all the craze lately in the UK. Prices are still steep (starting at £160 for a high quality “clone”) but a company called Shapify wants to beat the competition and offer low cost 3D printed mini-me’s right away. Using Kinect as a scanning tool, it allows anyone to 3D scan themselves and then send the model in to be 3D printed. Shapify’s own software is already available for Windows 7 and newer PC’s and will soon to be available for Macs as well. It will help anyone to stitch together the 3D images captured by Microsoft’s 3D mapping videocamera and create a printable model. Time of delivery: two weeks. The price? $59. Quality may be inferior to other, more professional, systems but hey, no one’s perfect.
FAD OR TREND?
The self replication/miniaturization fad started to gain some momentum – as is often the case for this type of extravagant yet surprisingly common interests – in Japan, where a company called Omote 3D was among the very first to launch a 3D photo booth service at the Eye of Gyre fair in Tokyo last January. Shortly thereafter a new 3D photo booth studio, The Clone Factory, opened in Akihabara, the main gaming and technology district of Japan’s capital (and global capital of weird, technological, playful experimentation), offering cloned dolls with 3D printed faces. The only problem was that these services ranged in price from the equivalent of a few hundred to almost a thousand dollars.
After Japan, the fad (if not soon to become an outright trend) of self replication moved on to the UK, where Asda supermarkets were the first mass merchandisers to test a system that allowed a person to be fully scanned and printed, with prices starting a £40. It seemed as the revolution had already broken out but the Asda test is just that, a test, and it is not clear if and when it will be implemented commercially. Also, the £40 price tag refers to only a low res, one color 3D print of one’s upper body. Full color, full body miniatures will cost upwards of £200.
The service was also available during London’s 3DPrintshow at the beginning of November for £240 while London’s iMakr store inside Selfridges now offers it for as low as £160. Thanks to the high resolution 3D capture possible through 3D scanners such as the Artec Spider, the quality of the models is already quite high, while prices are certainly going to decrease in the upcoming months and years. In the meantime, however, those who don’t want to leave the home to get themselves copied can already use Shapify’s system. And get themselves delivered to their own front doors.
Here is a short video showing how Shapify works