credit: Tony Buser
Recent years have brought major advancements in 3D printing technology. As investors and industry giants like Epson, Objet, and HP continue to pour money into R&D, it seems exciting innovations are made almost daily. Already 3D printers are capable of producing spare parts for soldiers on the battlefield, sophisticated aeronautical mechanisms, advanced prosthetics, and even cardiac patches. They can manufacture objects in a wide range of materials and allow engineers to explore design possibilities that are impossible by traditional means. But not all the applications for 3D printing technology are ultra high-tech. It is also being used for a wide variety of whimsical purposes, one of which puts a whole new spin on the traditional photobooth.
Japan: Printing Yourself
In Tokyo’s Harajuku region, a new pop-up store called Omote3D is printing action-figure-sized statuettes of customers. The process involves a body scan with a handheld scanning device, which requires the subject to stand very still for about 15 minutes. Appropriately enough, the scan has much in common with early photographic techniques. The figures are printed in full color and built from plastic, but the scanner is not sensitive enough to pick up small jewelry (such as earrings) and certain fluffy materials. The 10cm version costs about £160 and the 20cm version will set you back £320. But the high price tag reflects the fact that the process is the first of its kind in the world, and the technology being used represents a significant innovation. Keep in mind the figurines are in high demand, so you’ll have to schedule ahead to get one yourself.
Also in America
But Japan isn’t the only country cashing in on the photographic possibilities of 3D printing. MakerBot––the first company to make 3D printers affordable enough for the average consumer––recently opened a store in New York where they offer customers a 3D photobooth experience. Unlike Omote3D, the statues are a bargain, and costs just $25. But they are also considerably less sophisticated: somewhat pixilated plastic busts, which are only available in bright-colored monochrome. Nonetheless, it is pretty awesome New Yorkers now have the option to give neon green busts of themselves to their relatives this Christmas.
Unfortunately, there are only two of these stores in the world today. But 3D printing is a fast-rising field, and we are sure to see more of these high-tech photobooths cropping up across the globe in years to come. Soon, they will be faster, cheaper, and more sophisticated. And with recent breakthroughs in prosthetics and bioprinting, who knows, maybe it wont be long before we can really print ourselves.
About the Author: This is a contributed post by PrinterInks; an online store that specializes in ink and toner cartridges for all of your traditional 2D printing needs.