Backface has claimed the Guinness World Record for the tallest 3D printed human for an episode of The Gadget Show with a giant, oversized version of John Bentley.
The Birmingham company scanned his whole body in advance of one of the most complex printing projects to date. You really don’t think about the complexity of a human being until you start to build one this size!
A man made up for 50,000 layers
In the end John was made up of more than 50,000 layers, each of them the same thickness as a human hair. The ProJet 660 Printer was the weapon of choice and that has seen active service on a number of other, smaller figurines.
Don’t think this was a standard 1:1 size model. The previous record stood at 2 metres tall. So Backface had to supersize the presenter, who has become synonymous with The Gadget Show.
He was also an executive producer on Top Gear, which did not prepare him in any way for the challenge of remaining perfectly still for the 3D scanning process.
Superglue is the magic ingredient
The printer could easily have made a solid John Bentley, but Backface opted for a hollow model. The Birmingham-based company used Gypsum mixed with cyanoacrylate, which is better known as superglue, to make a solid model that could take a knock or two and hold the paint to create a vivid model.
There was a reason for the solid approach, the company had to transport the model from its HQ in Fazeley to the nearby National Exhibition Centre. So there was a very nervous 13-mile trip to navigate before the the Guinness officials verified the record breaking attempt.
A giant of a man, well, a model
Panic over, the model was unloaded and taken into the show, where it was greeted by presenter Yue Xu and the representatives from Guinness. They took the measure of the John Bentley statue and came back with a recording of 2m 5cm. That was enough to secure a new world record.
Backface is used to producing intricate figurines, but normally works on a much smaller scale. Its main business is producing busts, ornamental statues and what it refers to as 3D portraits. This brings the concept of a portrait painting kicking and screaming into the modern age. It’s a little bit of fun that seems to have captured the public’s imagination.
What next for 3D printing?
3D printing is moving at an exceptional rate and now it is feasible to have a real lifelike statue of yourself on the mantelpiece, rather than a straightforward ornament.
Backface has taken the action figure genre and given it a unique twist. You can look like a Star Wars figure, you can be a soldier or they can make you in your work clothes. They could even make you 2m 5cm tall, if you really want them to.
We’re going to see more of this kind of creativity from the 3D printing community as it continues to develop equipment and create more realistic results. The level of detail on this model defied belief and, when the actual presenter joined the stage, he looked like a scaled down version.
Quite what the future holds for 3D printing, none of us can know, but if this is anything to go by then it’s very bright indeed.