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Japanese Photo Studio Offers 3D Prints, Not Portraits

By Norman Chan

Visitors can get a 20cm tall figure of themselves to be delivered later.

For a limited time, a pop-up studio in Japan's Harajuku district is offering visitors 3D-printed models of themselves. It's being dubbed the world's first 3D printing photo booth, but the setup is neither photobooth-like nor delivers instantaneous results. Instead, customers have to sign up on the pop-up store's website to make a reservation for a 3D scan.

When they arrive at the store, they're put against a lit backdrop like they would be at a professional photo studio, and a trained staff member makes a 3D scan using a handheld IR scanner. The process is supposed to take 15 minutes. Once they're scanned, customers choose a size for their 3D figure--between 10 and 20 cm--which will be printed in full color. The sample prints shown on the website indicate a color powder-based print, similar to the 3D printing technology FigurePrints for its products (figures look a little grainy, a byproduct of the process). There's no way that customers can walk out the door with a figure in hand, since processing the 3D file and actual printing can take several days with this process. Still, it's a neat idea and a novel demonstration of the commercial viability of modern 3D printing/rapid prototyping technology.