I know what my family’s getting in their Christmas stocking this year: A 3D print of my face! Inspired by Stephen Colbert’s newfound love for 3D printing technology, last week the staff of AFC made its way over to MakerBot Industries, the DIY 3D printing company in Brooklyn, to have our heads scanned. Cornstarch was dusted over our hair to help improve the read of the scan, and a device that looks like a barcode reader shone around our heads. The file’s now available online along for Internet users to download and remix along with those of others who stopped by that day (artist Cliff Evans, 4chan’s moot, and Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing all have their heads online). A gold mine for anyone with scads of free time on their hands for sure.
Beyond the necessities – say, producing 3D renderings of Stephen Colbert’s head with wings – the printer can replicate virtually any small object in Lego-like plastic. I assume there will be more than one artist out there who could do something interesting with this, though it also means having the ability to print objects as banal as combs and door stoppers. The printer has practical real world applications.
In any event, the unassembled Makerbot Thing-O-Matic costs $1300, which matches the mid-range price of a professional digital camera. Of course, artists who want to use 3D scanners may end up using rentals just like the kids at Makerbot did last week. The good ones can end up being very pricey.