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Clone Factory 3D Modeling Immortalizes Faces in Doll Form

By Wesley Fenlon

Your kids may grow up with Stormtrooper figures of themselves. Just think about how awesome that is.

Interactive Fabrication aren't the only ones out there combining 3D printing with facial scanning. Using Kinect to scan people in dynamic poses was a fun way to unite a depth sensor and 3D printing--but as usual, when it comes to tech, Japan's ahead of the curve. A company called Clone Factory, based in Akihabara, performs some Hollywood-style facial capturing with an array of DSLRs to create a 3D model of someone's head.

Can you guess what comes next? Yep--they print it. And stick it on a doll.

Culture Japan's Danny Choo chronicled his experience at Clone Factory, where it costs 138,000 yen (~$1750) to achieve immortality through an action figure. Apparently the place is popular enough to sustain itself! Check out the Culture Japan article for more close-ups of the dolls themselves. The detail is impressive.

The process begins with DSLRs capturing enough image data to create an accurate 3D model.

Clone Factory uses Autodesk Maya, one of the popular piece of 3D software we recommended for getting into modeling. You can see the various parts of the capture, taken from front, back, left and right, and even above.

That model is fed into a ZPrinter 650, which is pretty colossal compared to the MakerBot. The printer creates the doll head out of porcelain and uses five ink print heads to apply color. That thing costs about $60,000, by the way.

Then it's doll time. $1750 is a little steep for a creepy clone figure, but these do look really good. Expensive equipment stands in the way of this kind of 3D printing becoming an easy hobbyist activity, but the potential's simply awesome. Forget about buying tons of action figures for your kids--just get kits and customize them. Make your own personal Batman. Be Batman. Alternatively, save up a couple grand for the next time you're in Japan.

Images via Danny Choo