June 19, 2014

The first 3D printed presidential portraits created from 3-D scan data were displayed at the first-ever White House Maker Faire on Wednesday. The 3D printed bust and life mask of Obama, will become part of his presidential depictions in the National Portrait Gallery collection.

The Smithsonian-led team scanned the President earlier this year using two distinct 3-D documentation processes. Experts from the University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies used their "Light Stage" face scanner to document the President's face from ear to ear in high resolution. Next, a Smithsonian team used handheld 3-D scanners and traditional SLR cameras to record peripheral 3-D data to create an accurate bust.

The data captured was post-processed by 3-D graphics experts at the software company Autodesk to create final high-resolution models. The life mask and bust were then printed using 3D Systems' Selective Laser Sintering printers.

The Portrait Gallery's collection has multiple images of each president, including the famed plaster life masks of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. But past presidential masks were created through plaster casting that required a president to sit with plaster on his face, breathing through straws stuck in his nose.

So the team set out to update that process with 21st century technology to make it fast and easy, and they proposed a scan of Obama about a year ago, and the White House agreed. Obama joined them for about 15 minutes in the White House. The actual scanning took about 5 minutes. The result was a 3D scan of the president at a higher resolution that is currently possible to print in 3D.

"You can see down to the wrinkles in the skin and the pores on his face," said Vince Rossi, a 3D imaging specialist.

Images: Smithsonian Institution

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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Malene wrote at 8/14/2014 11:12:32 AM:

It would be so cool, if they would make the files available. Then anyone with a 3D-printer can get a copy of the President. Beats ballons and batches.

dziarski wrote at 6/23/2014 3:43:34 AM:

@Piotr: Do you have a photo of 3d printed head of Lech Wałęsa or 3d scanner file or even .jpg of 3d scan ? If yes, could you post link to it?

3DSkrilla wrote at 6/19/2014 4:13:32 PM:

lol^ sales pitch! why don't you provide a link

Piotr wrote at 6/19/2014 12:09:18 PM:

It is not the first president scanned and printed at all! Maybe it is true that he is the first in USA but not on the world. I did scan myself president L. Walesa year ago. Polish former president.

Julie Reece wrote at 6/19/2014 11:25:24 AM:

The 3D print of the President would have looked much more realistic on a full color 3D printer, like the Mcor IRIS 3D printer. The prints could have been made much more affordably, 5-20% of the cost, and in an eco-friendly manner, since the Mcor 3D printer uses ordinary paper as the build material, producing very tough, durable 3D printed models.

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