The ultimate vision among 3D printing enthusiasts is the Replicator from Star Trek (perhaps combined with the Teleporter for the live scanning part, if not the “beaming” itself). For others, it’s all a big fax machine or laser printer, just in 3D, designed to save us time, travel, and money. For most of us, it’s a way to build things that never existed before, a supreme reification of intangible ideas into physical reality.
The state of the art is still somewhat short of all of those goals, but advancing rapidly, focusing on cost, speed, resolution, and even articulation of parts. Making 3D figurines of you and your loved ones is an interesting stop along the way.
The truth is that people have thought about 3D scanning and printing for decades, and this is often a top request (I can’t tell you how many people thought they came up with this idea).
The devil is always in the details, at least for now. For example, how does the 3D printer in this Japanese “3D photo booth” apply subtle color gradiations to make your skin look real? Some affordable commercial 3D printers can do a small number of matte colors, one at a time. High end full color 3D printers are coming down in price. How does the software stitch a solid 3D likeness from multiple stereoscopic images? (hint: they say you need to stand still while they take multiple photos or video)
But it doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s economical and people want to buy these at some price, which I figure they will. FWIW, 32,000 yen = about $400 by my math. What would you pay?
Process | OMOTE 3D SHASIN KAN. (via Gizmodo)