I wanted to show how anyone can create a 3D model of themselves or a person they know using a digital camera, free Autodesk software, and a 3D printer.
Here is an example of my two Autodesk colleagues Brian Mathews and Scott Sheppard as 3D printed miniature heads- about the size of Barbie doll heads. I could have printed the heads much larger, but that also increases the creepiness factor of carrying around a rather large plastic head of a coworker.
Here are Scott & Brian with their mini 3D printed heads.
How I did it:
With the person holding very still and me walking around them, I took about 40 photos of their head. I then used the free Autodesk 123D Catch where you use photos to automatically generate a 3D model. When I was satisfied with the results, I exported an .OBJ file to use as the raw 3D model I wanted to use for 3D printed plastic heads.
Here are the screen captures from 123D Catch of the texture and wireframe mesh models of both Brian and Scott.
I then cleaned mesh model for 3D printing by opening the .OBJ file in the free Autodesk meshmixer. Meshmixer allowed me to fill and zipper holes, smooth areas, and reduce or refine the mesh areas as well as remove portions of the mesh. I can also paint with volume brushes to create more detail or even add other OBJ content to add say a pair of horns to a persons head just in case you intend to mount it on the wall. When I am done I export the file as .STL ready for printing.
Now using the .STL file I can print the head in ABS plastic on a 3D printer like a Makerbot or using an online 3D printing service like Shapeways.com. You could also import the .STL file into Autodesk 123D Make and slice up the model into layers which can create a pattern to construct a 3D model out of cardboard.
Scott’s head being printed on a MakerBot.
You can even import the .STL file Project Falcon to see how fluids would flow around your cranium using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis.
I hope you will give this fun experiment a try as it is not only fun but a real conversation starter when you have a recognizable coworkers head or your own on your desk, or in your pocket. Of course there are more practical objects you could capture and 3D print using the same methods such as statues, architecture, and even geology such as the mountain I 3D printed from a Autodesk 123D Catch created 3D model.