Introduction: 3D Scanning My Hand and Printing the Perfect Glove Mannequin

About: designer, leather ninja, tech explorer, ruiner of manicures

This Instructable documents our experiments to find the best way to scan a hand and make the perfect glove mannequin. Glove mannequins are usually not very good.. We decided to print one using a real hand. I wanted a beautiful and practical mannequin to display our DIY VR glove controllers (Instructable coming soon ;)

If you are interested in the practical aspects of printing a glove mannequin (i.e. mannequin design and actual 3D printing) skip to Step 4. Steps 1-3 show our experiments with the different types of scanners until we got it right. Non of us had really used 3D scanners before and were learning how best to use them. We had lots of fun, so I've documented the process here.

There are already lots of cool Instructables about how to scan body parts, like this one by Amy Karle which uses the same Artec scanner we used. Also this video, by the people who made the Artec scanner.
Or this one which shows you how to scan and animate yourself!

This is a collaborative project between Pier 9 Artists in Residence Rachel Freire (glove textile designer and hand model), Artyom Maxim (glove hadrware designer and wielder of powertools), Dave Cortes (3D modelling and casting) and Pushan Panda (scanning ninja).

You can see more images of the finished mannequin and process here:

Step 1: Live Scanning With the Artec Scanner

We first tried to scan me live using the Artec scanner. Its kinda hard to keep still and the scanner kept losing it's registration points on the fingers. We then tried to scan my head as an extra reference point. Also not so good. I squirmed too much. Overall fail. Though we did get a good scan of my head, which is of no use. But oh well.

Step 2: Casting My Hand

Next we decided to cast my hand. It seemed more sensible to have a static model to use while experimenting with the scanner options. A messy endeavour, also lots of fun. We used a cheap casting material from the local art store which was a bit rubbish. I think it would be more advisable to invest in Alginate and plaster bandage. We decided it was easier to use Dave's ninja skills to fix the messy cast than to try and mould the hand perfectly. The final mannequin would need some 3D modelling anyways.

Step 3: Scanning the Cast With the NextEngine and Artec Scanners

We then tried to scan the cast on the NextEngine scanner. We have had previous success with this, but again, the scanner seemed to have problems registering the fingers and messed it up.

Finally, Pushan used the Artec scanner and instead of moving physically around the object, he spun it on a rotating platform.

Gaby would probably laugh at us because she's brilliant at this. But finally.. Result!

Step 4: 3D Modelling the Hand and Designing the Mannequin

We then needed to clean up the mesh and design how the mannequin would function.

Dave Cortes is a 3D sculpting ninja. He took the rough scan and cleaned up in Mudbox, fixing the collapsed fingertips and created a longer wrist. We realised the positioning of the hand was not ideal (the thumb was bent inwards too much because our casting container was small) so he also altered the shape of the hand, bringing the thumb out and opening the pose to look more natural.

What i found really interesting was his process. He took the mesh and reduced the polygons to model the desired shape. He then used photos of my hand as reference to rebuild the texture of my skin and add the details back in. Sculpting in 3D is just as intuitive as in real life, and requires a very refined eye. Thanks Dave for giving me a much more elegant hand.. my nails are more delicate and my wrist got smaller (this is actually perfect for mannequin purposes).

I wanted to make the actual hand split into pieces to make it easier to put on gloves. This means the fingers can be inserted separately and therefore put less stress on the gloves. Using this idea, Dave used Netfabb to split the hand into three pieces and separate the wrist. We then made a printable STL file.

Step 5: Printing on the Fortus 450

We decided to print the first hand on the Fortus 450 at Pier 9. We used ASA as it is strong, so we could make the print hollow and speed up the process.

Ten hours later we had a print.

I removed the support material with just pliers, not needing to bath it in chemicals. Mostly this is because I'm impatient. but it worked really well and the print was perfect.

Step 6: Adding the Magnets

This was a test print and we wanted to set it printing overnight. There wasn't time to create indentations for the magnets in the 3D model.

When the model was printed Dave drilled the print and added two small magnets to each face of the joints. We used really small magnets as it's not easy to get them to line up perfectly doing it this way.

It worked pretty well and is very satisfying! Next time however, we will use bigger magnets and make the inserts in the 3D model to ensure they align perfectly.

Step 7: Fitting a Glove

People are squishy, mannequins are not. It is one of the reasons mannequins are so skinny: to make sure the clothes will fit over the form.

The reason the mannequin splits into three pieces is so the fingers can be inserted first into the glove and the hand afterwards. This is so as not to stretch the glove over the hand and distort it.

For our current half glove design this is not so necessary, but will be super useful when we move on to a full glove which covers the whole hand.

Step 8: Finished Design and Next Steps

This magnetic mannequin design works brilliantly. Splitting it this way is really practical and prints really well too.

First you insert the finger pieces. Then, the central finger is the registration point for the hand. It also makes me chuckle. Before you credit me with this genius practical/asinine design, I would like to point out that it was inspired by a brilliant hand cast I used at Marvel Studios while making gloves for The Avengers. Maybe this is a classic style of glove mannequin, but I assume some genius there came up with this idea. I salute them. In practical terms a three part hand is brilliant as it means less fiddly pieces than removing all the fingers separately. Also, I can enjoy walking around waving my rudely dismembered hand at people. Perfect.

The next step is to refine this design and add some practical elements. When we have the perfect hand we'll print our display mannequins in clear resin on the Connex Objet printer. This means they can be lit from inside and generally look fancy!

Changes to make:
- Add indents for the magnets to sit in
- make a space at the base of the wrist: to (1) add a weight to stabilise and/or (2) facilitate subtle LEDs highlight the delicacy of the glove fabrics/eTextiles
- use Within to experiment with stripping out the innards of the model in an aesthetically pleasing way. This will both save material and look cool!
- give it a fancy industrial manicure and possibly some robotic looking style lines
- upload final STL of mannequin so there can potentially be lots of RachelHands in the world being practical, asinine, gnarly and awesome