Life Sized 3D Printed Models of Yourself!

This mother’s day, there was a rather eerie deal that was going around as a rather zany Groupon deal. This deal claimed that if you were willing to spend around thirty thousand dollars, you would have gotten the chance to send a one of a kind gift to your mother- a life sized version of herself, custom 3D printed just to see that smile on her face. We are not quite sure whether mom is going to beam at you or faint in your arms, but apparently, two 3D printing Startup Company was smitten by this wild yet expensive idea. They now run their own service which prints life sized models of people, only at a price tag of $3000.

This might still be a considered as a wild idea by some, but this has been made possible, and is actually much more reasonable. Thanks to the joint initiative of design firm Voodoo Manufacturing and Body Labs based in New York, the companies found out that they too could create life sized and realistic models of actual people at a cost much less than that outrageous $30,000 sum. With the help of innovative 3D scanning and 3D printing, Body Labs facilitates this idea. A demonstration of how these life sized 3D printed models were made was given by Jonathan Schwartz, Co-founder of Voodoo Manufacturing. He did so by 3D scanning his own body which was later 3D printed into eighty eight different segments, to be reassembled into an uncanny, life sized Jonathan Schwartz model.   

Situated in Brooklyn, New York, Voodoo Manufacturing’s very own factory is where the individual 3D printing of the parts was done; that too with the help of 150 MakerBot 3D printers. The company admits that they use desktop 3D printers instead of industrial sized ones; hence it is not possible to print out a life sized human being in one piece. In order to solve this problem, the body model was separated into 88 pieces which are small enough to be printed out of a single desktop 3D printer. These were all individually prepared for printing with the help of the company’s in house cloud slicer. Also, there was absolutely no need to manually prepare the 88 different files; the company could offload the computing of these files to the cloud, which made the process faster and hassle free.

A significant advantage of dividing the portions instead of printing out an entire model in a single big printer is that, the printing of all 88 components can now be streamlined across 88 different printers, which is helping to speed up the process. This rapid prototyping is bringing down manufacturing time to 30 times lesser compared to a printing a single model. This is why the entire 3D printed replica can be printed out in just under a day, taking a total 14.7 kg of plastic and 623 printer hours to get the whole thing printed.

Body Labs ensures that the 3D modeling and scanning are nothing like the traditional 3D scanning technologies. Their advanced system of scanning is an incorporation of research from Germany and the US. Once these scans are generated into 3D models, there is scope to make the figures animated and capable of moving at will.

The entire process begins with a body scan in 3D. For this particular purpose, the idea is to produce a scan as a 3D point cloud, digitally representing the object that is being scanned. The scanner then collects the XYZ coordinates of the physical points of the body in three dimensional spaces. Hence, the computer recognized the position of our limbs with the help of some points in space. After obtaining the 3D scan, these collections of three dimensional points are then processed by Body Labs. This is done using their statistical model which combines machine learning and the world’s most accurate database containing human pose and shape. The resulting products are what are called the ‘body models’.

These new capabilities to scan in 3D have opened door to a number of opportunities in terms of custom model designing. The US military has even teamed up with Body Labs to perform research and create a giant database of soldier’s body measurements, in order to design customized gear. The fashion industry could hugely benefit from this technology as customers’ clothing can be designed with a fully customized, virtually tested and fitted for a wide range of motions. Gaming and animation industries too could benefit from this 3D scanning method. Needless to say, these models could be a whimsical addition to your living room or mind boggling gifts as well. Yet Voodoo and Body Labs are aiming to reach out to some industries that could potentially make use of life sized, accurate and animated human models.

More on this topicArea learning in Google Tango