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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

The most realistic 3D-printed portraits we've seen

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CNET Editor

Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

(Credit: Twinkind)

A pop-up shop in Hamburg, Germany, will let customers get an incredibly lifelike 3D-printed statuette of themselves.

Who doesn't want their very own Mini-Me? It seems that getting yourself immortalised through the medium of 3D printing is the new black, from Pez dispensers to chocolate to Stormtroopers. Then there was a company in Japan, Omote 3D, creating little statuettes from 3D scans — only to now be beaten in the realism stakes by a company from Germany.

Twinkind, operating out of Hamburg, has a temporary pop-up studio where people can wander in, get themselves scanned and order statuettes of themselves in multiple sizes.

The company doesn't detail the exact technology used, but the scanning, it claimed, happens "in the blink of an eye" using a set-up of scanners similar to a bullet-time camera array. This speed means you can also get prints of your pets.

(Credit: Twinkind)

This scan is then processed by the team and 3D printed. "The latest state-of-the-art colour 3D printing technology is used to bring your digital sculpture back into the real world," the Twinkind website stated. "Voxel by voxel, layer by layer, the three-dimensional portrait grows into the (almost) final product as if by magic."

Most likely, the team uses a ZCorp "sandstone" printer, which uses a fine powder as a printing medium. As the layers are laid down, inkjet technology sets them with a bonding agent, which can be mixed with colour for a full-colour printed object. These printers aren't really for the consumer market, though; for the lowest-end model, you're looking at around US$15,000.

That's probably why getting a Twinkind portrait isn't exactly cheap. The smallest model, 15 centimetres tall, costs €225 — around AU$313 at the time of writing — all the way up to €1290 for 35 centimetres (around AU$1800). However, the service is limited only to people who can visit the physical location in Hamburg.

(Credit: Twinkind)


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