3D-printed Statue Selfies

“The advent of digital cameras and smartphones killed the traditional mall portrait studio, but 3-D printing has sparked a new trend. Overloaded with digital photos, statues may be moving in to fulfill our desire for portraits that stand out. The typical 3-D-printed statue is printed in full color in a material known as “sandstone” – really, gypsum powder. It’s glued together by color ink ejected from a head similar to the one found in an inkjet printer. The statues range from three to eight inches tall. The technology allows for a lot of variation in materials. IMakr offered chocolate statues for Easter. For 99 pounds, you got a box with six small chocolate likenesses of yourself.

Big businesses are getting into 3-D statuary as well, with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. at the forefront. In July, at a newly opened Sam’s Club in Montgomery, Illinois, and another outside Fort Worth, Tex., 3-D printers scanned shoppers’ faces and placed resin printouts of their heads on action figure-sized bodies of one of three Marvel characters. Wal-Mart’s British unit, ASDA, starting testing a service in November that lets customers buy 8-inch figurines of themselves for 60 pounds, or $100. The studio is now permanent in one store, and it’s been so popular that the company is considering rolling it out to other locations. “It’s become the new family portrait”, said ASDA spokesman Russell Craig.

A Staples store in New York scans people’s faces and puts them on NBA and Star Trek figurines. The goal of the pilot program is to get small businesses to use Staples Inc. for 3-D scanning and printing jobs, just like they’ve provided those services for paper. One example of what that might look like: A bakery that wants to use statues of the bride and groom as wedding cake toppers would need a printer that cost $60,000 or so, plus the expertise to use it. Staples wants to do that job for them, for $70. Before that can happen, small businesses like bakeries have to learn about the possibilities of 3-D printing”. – Peter Svensson via The Associated Press

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In this August 14, 2014 photo, a plastic bust statue of Kevin Micelli, center, and his family, made by a 3-D scanner and printer, sits on a shelf inside Micelli’s coffee shop in New York. Micelli purchased the 3-D scanning and printing services at the Cubo toy store next door to his shop. With the old studio portrait supplanted by the selfie, 3-D scanning services provide a new reason for people to go to a store and stand stock-still in front of a camera. (Photo by Julie Jacobson/AP Photo)

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In this August 14, 2014 photo, Victor De Los Angeles, left, owner of Cubo toy store, demonstrates the use of the Sense 3D scanner on coffee shop owner Kevin Micelli at his store in New York. With the old studio portrait supplanted by the selfie, 3-D scanning services provide a new reason for people to go to a store and stand stock-still in front of a camera. (Photo by Julie Jacobson/AP Photo)

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In this August 14, 2014 photo, Victor De Los Angeles, left, owner of Cubo toy store, demonstrates a Sense 3D scanner on coffee shop owner Kevin Micelli at his store in New York. (Photo by Julie Jacobson/AP Photo)

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In this August 14, 2014 photo, Cubo toy store owner Victor De Los Angeles shows the results of a 3-D scan of Kevin Micelli on a tablet after scanning him with a Sense 3-D scanner at his store in New York. (Photo by Julie Jacobson/AP Photo)

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This August 14, 2014 photo shows a finished plastic statue, made with a 3-D scanner and printer, on display at Cubo toy store in New York. (Photo by Julie Jacobson/AP Photo)

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