A local university reached out to us about a high school graduate who wanted to leave a photo of herself for her mother when she leaves for college. The one problem is the graduates mother is blind. The social worker inquired about 3D printing a replica of of the daughter's face to leave with her mother. The university contacted my self and my co-worker and asked if we could do this. At the time we had not done anything like this to date, but we took on this challenge.
Ron Shaffer, my fellow teacher and myself took on this project for a complete stranger. This is our journey.
Step 1: Original Idea
Ron Shaffer did some research and proposed the idea that we use a Kinect from X-Box One to scan an image in 3D. Ron's idea was inspired by an instructable, so we ordered some cords and adapters . Long story short this method was not going to work. Issues with graphic image cards and limited teacher resources left us high and dry. In other words we needed more power and processing than the school issue lap top could provide. Still a great idea but we choose to go a different direction.
Step 2: Plan B-123d Catch
A little over a year ago Ron and I experimented with 123d Catch on our phones. At that time we snapped some quick photos of Lighting McQueen and created a 3D scan of a toy. There where several issues in the scan and so we would put it on the back burner.
After our original idea, we decided to revisit the 123d Catch program. The biggest difference is we used a "camera" which gave use much better pictures and lighting. This made a significant difference in our results.
Ron snapped 35 pictures of myself in our first prototype run. We upload the images into 123d Catch and the program stitched the images into a 3D image.
Step 3: MeshMixer
We used Mesh Mixer to transform the image to a solid so we could print. MeshMixer gave us the tools to mold and smooth out rough areas and patches from the initial photos. Knowing this was a prototype we did not spend much time and effort cleaning up our original scan. We scaled the image down and prepared it to print. The one issues we ran into was how will we ever print the object. We decided we need a base for two reasons. The base allows the object to stand when finish. We also no the base would give us a solid points of contact with the build plate which will be very important when we go to print a large scale bust. We would later incorporate more of the shoulders for a better looking print.
Step 4: First Print-Prototype
We decided to print the objects as they were so that we could use the imperfections to improve our photo taking and scanning. We did not make any corrections to those imperfections ie. the hair and forehead make a small point, behind the ears and the neck and collar line were the biggest areas that needed reworked.
Our first small scaled we used the square platform, we decided and determine it would balance and be more
aesthetically pleasing if we used the shoulders as supports.
Step 5: Final Print
We repeated the process with the young lady.
1. We snapped more photos(more may not be better)
More photos can lead to more details, but more margin for error, bad light source, over simply confusing the program. There is no magical number for how many photos to use. It is a bit of trial and error.
2. We stitched it together in 123dCatch
3. We opened it in MeshMixer
We were able to get two good scans but both scans had separate issues. We convert the files to parts and this allow us to merge new set of lips on a the face. We scaled the lips up to accurate size and smoothed edges and seams. It best to get a scan that does not have blemishes but difficult it almost impossible to get a perfect scan. Mesh Mixer allows for you to clean the image up.
4. We converted it to a solid.
5. We exported it as an stl.
6. Scaled the face up to max size and printed.