Obama Is First 3-D Scanned and Printed President
Barack Obama can add another item to his list of presidential milestones: first sitting US president to have been 3-D-scanned and printed. The Smithsonian debuted a bust and a life mask of the leader of the free world at the first White House Maker Faire on June 18, which Obama declared a “National Day of Making.” The sculptures will join the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, which also owns plaster life masks of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.
The process of scanning the president was done in two parts, which Vincent Rossi, a Smithsonian 3-D program officer, described on the Smithsonian website:
We 3-D-scanned the face, ear to ear, at extremely high resolution, capturing details down to the pore level of the skin. We worked with a team from the University of Southern California, who use this technology to 3-D-scan Hollywood actors. And then the Smithsonian 3-D team used hand-held structured light scanners to scan the rest of the bust—the sides of the face, under the chin, the back of the head. We put these two data sets together in order to create the model we used for the 3-D-print.
The museum believes that 3-D-printing could have important applications in terms of teaching history. Scanning a political leader “really has the potential to connect people to his life and times and legacy with an immediacy that a simple photograph or a painting simply cannot convey,” said Günter Waibel, director of the digitization program office, in the Smithsonian’s online announcement.
Other projects at the Faire, which is a celebration of technological innovation in business, included “The Electric Giraffe Project” and “The Mobile Fab Lab,” but the perfect replica of the president’s head and shoulders attracted considerable attention. According to the museum, several attendees opted to take selfies with the life-size Obama replica—something that Obama, unfortunately, hasn’t done yet.
As something of an aside, artnet News thinks you should know that if you search for “3-D Obama head” on Google, you’ll find “Chocolate Obama Scented Soap Head – Mini 3D Obama Soap Head in chocolate Scent” for sale on Amazon. God bless America.
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