Published on August 22nd, 2014 | by Eddie Leblanc0
Selfies To Boost 3D Printed Figurine Market
According to Yahoo, the number of selfies – a self-portrait photograph - taken in 2014 should approach 1 trillion. Selfies have become a mainstream social phenomenon, with the proliferation of front-facing cameras and smartphone apps like Instagram or SnapChat encouraging users to share pictures of themselves.
Next step, 3D printed selfies?
The trend has actually already started and many sees huge opportunities in the custom figurines market. 3D printing and selfies are a natural fit. It’s the easiest technology to quickly create on-demand 3D figurines as close as possible from reality.
On paper, the process is quite simple. Users take pictures of their own face, which is then merged and cleaned into a 3D model that a 3D printer will be able to physically produce. Other variation includes taking a 3D scan of the face or the full body. Models can be created at home with an app like 123D Catch, or sent to a service that will take care of the whole process.
However, in practice, the reality is a bit more complicated. 3D printing a life-like reproduction of a full body or a face is not exactly as easy as reproducing a coffee mug. Moving parts and dark areas such as hair or beard will result in a selfie figurine that you definitively don’t want to see on your desk.
Life-like replicas of yourself are now a reality
Specialized services such as Twinkind, My3DTwin, 3DFigureWorks or California-based TwinDom are trying to solve this problem. Located in Berlin, Twinkind stands out from competitors with its outstanding life-like figurines. The service is used by families, lovers and friends with sport teams, cake toppers and pregnancy souvenirs on top of the list.
3D Scanner companies are actively heading for this market as well. Popular 3D scanner maker Artec recently launched Shapify allowing users to look up a map where they can pick up their figurine, in one of the company’s worldwide scanning points, including Artec’ Showroom in Palo Alto, CA.
Around the world, temporary photo booth set-ups is another opportunity to test out the 3D printed selfie idea. In Japan, Omote was one of the first to achieve extremely good results thanks to a three-weeks long process involving professional full body 3D scanning, color 3D printing and manual post-finishing. In Spain, for a few weeks, visitors walking along the Ramblas of Barcelona could get their body scanned and 3D printed as a small replica directly on the street.
In New York, the MakerBot store lets customers 3D scan and 3D print their face since November 2012.
Pricing is still a barrier, as the process still requires a lot of time and manual work. A small figurine made at the MakerBot store will cost you about $25, a life-like replica of yourself starts at $250 with Twinkind, and $170 at Madrid-based store 3D-U.
In Berkeley, CA, startup Twindom have raised $400,000 in seed capital from three venture capitalists including Tim Draper, after spending three months in San Mateo’s accelerator Boost.vc. Customers simply have to come to one of the 7-employees company photo booth to be 3D scanned before receiving, a few weeks later, their 3D printed replica in the mail.
A temporary booth was installed by Twindom at the Westfield Center in San Francisco during holidays, and might be present at the Folsom Street Fair in September.