“Have you ever wanted to have a miniature model of yourself or someone very special and did not know how to make it? Have you ever imagined a 3D version of yourself in a game or application?” We thought about this in Labs, and started with a basic idea. The first step was to scan and then print 3D models of ourselves. We are happy to report that we successfully did it!
In order to do what we did, the first thing you need is a device that captures 3D models. In our experiment, we used Kinect Xbox 360, but several other devices exist that do the same thing.
3D scanning is a technique that translates physical and real-world (object or environment) to binary information on the computer. This kind of binary information is represented by shapes, in some cases with textures, that conform a 3D object model.
In order to actually print, we need a software for our device. Several softwares exist that work in different ways to reconstruct 3D models. Below are details about the ones we tried out.
In our case, we finally used Skanect, with which we obtained very good results at a very low cost. In fact for the test, we did 3D scanning without the need of a powerful video card (without Nvidia Cuda). Due to the results, we highly recommend the use this software, if you are looking to experiment at a low cost with Kinect and want acceptable results.
Other SW that we tested before was ReconstrucMe, which is a very good software, and made very good use of our GPU ATI, but did not get the results that we expected. Anyway, we still recommend trying it as it is highly compatible with most GPUs.
Other SW that we also tested was KScan3D. This SW works very differently than the rest of the ones mentioned before, it works by 3D assembling. The reconstruction of the 3D model is pretty much based on the images I take with the camera at the time of scanning, allowing me to even choose the frames that are to be used for the final composition of the 3D model. But in the end when we created the 3D model from the frame assembly, we did not get the quality we were expecting.
And finally we tested Artec, with Kinect. It is undoubtedly an incredible software that is aimed at large-scale business solutions. Clearly designed for professional use with your own hardware. In fact it was used in films such as World War Z. For this reason using with a conventional device like Kinect, did not get good result.
Finally once we had our 3D model, Skanect has a set of tools to clean the object quite well, but we were in search of a little more detail, we finished cleaning and fixing our 3D model with a program called MeshLab. It is an amazing open source solution for 3D models, used to process and edit unstructured 3D triangular meshes. We highly recommend its use!
In the end, once taking the 3D scan to our model cleaner, we have a thousand variations of uses for our model, fromthe incorporation of a 3D game environment, to 3D printing it. Now what we did, at this early stage, was just print it with our 3D printer.
A Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer was used to print our 3D model. And MakerWare was the software used to control the printer. We just exported the model in STL format and scaled it but MakerWare has a lot of options tooptimize quality and speed. MakerWare added support material that allowed us print the stand up figure.