The ‘selfie’s’ next frontier: 3D printing
The selfie is an evolving “art” form. First, there was the hashtag (#selfie), which originated in 2011. Then came the duck face, the selfie stick, and then the drone shot. What could possibly be left? Is the selfie over?
Absolutely not, says Dieter Bielert, owner of Twin Familie, a 3D portrait service. It’s actually entering an exciting new dimension.
If you live in or around Hamburg, Germany, you can visit Bielert’s website, www.twin-familie.de, make an appointment, pose for your “picture,” and voilà – in a day or two, you have a three-dimensional selfie to present to the world.
Here’s how it works. You arrive for your appointment at the Twin-Familie studio, either alone or with your BFF. You step onto an electrically driven turntable that revolves very slowly, at 2.5 times per minute. Bielert, the studio owner, uses a handheld 3D scanner to capture your contours in full colour down to .1 mm resolution.
“You need to sit still,” says Beilert, “and it helps if you wear bright happy colours, but nothing shiny.”
The simple process
After three minutes, he has captured 3D data representing your surface contours. The 3D scanning software turns the data into printable polygons. Meanwhile, Bielert digitally erases the turntable and other random images, and makes minor adjustments along the way – for example, your shiny black hair may register as white instead of black. He can also manipulate clothing textures.
Next, the file goes to Bielert’s 3D printer, the Mcor IRIS from Mcor Technologies, the industry’s most colour-capable 3D printer. The IRIS produces full, photorealistic 5760 x 1440 x 508 dpi bitmap colour. With the ability to apply any colour anywhere, the Mcor IRIS is the only 3D printer to include the ICC (International Colour Consortium) Colour Map. The map ensures that the colour in your file or on your screen is what you get on your 3D printed model. The IRIS’s use of ordinary paper as the build material enables Bielert to create durable figurine models up to 10 inches (25 cm) tall for one-fifth the cost of competing systems.
“When I was looking for the right 3D printer for this business, I was immediately impressed with the Mcor IRIS,” recalls Bielert. “It’s extremely cost-effective, and no 3D printer can exceed the range of colours and colourful detail it can produce. The 3D models are very durable – effectively solid wood – and have a pleasant surface to touch. There is nothing like it on the market, and all without the use of harmful chemicals.”
Business poised to grow
Bielert entered the 3D selfie business a year ago having used scanners for years to capture the shapes of auto parts and objects in local museums. Auto part scan data is used to 3D print prototypes that precisely replicate obsolete parts for aftermarket and custom manufacturing. Museums use 3D scanning and 3D printing to overcome the challenge of providing effective, hands-on education about ancient artefacts without damaging those priceless items, and to produce replicas for museum gift shops. Bielert’s primary business, 3D-Picture.net, also uses a drone to capture the shapes of buildings, which are printed at scale for architects and planners, again using the Mcor IRIS.
Although Twin-Familie is still a side business for Bielert at this stage, he has plans to expand. Based only on word of mouth, he’s producing about six 3D selfies per week, but he says, “When we start advertising, the business will increase exponentially.” He plans to hire more staff to meet this demand.
“Although we call them ‘selfies,’ there’s a lot of substance in 3D portraiture,” says Bielert. “You capture yourself or people you love at meaningful times in their lives and in ways that a 2D portrait can’t match. It could be your child, your parents, your pets or yourself at your very best. For a lot of people, though, it’s just a new kind of selfie and it’s kind of cool.”
To learn more about Mcor’s True, full-colour, SDL paper-based 3D printing technology, download: