Your Own 3D Printed Miniature for $300

By Norman Chan

If you live in Hamburg, Germany.

3D printing photo studios are slowly making their way west. First, Tokyo was the first city to have a pop-up photo studio where patrons could have their bodies scanned and replicated by a 3D printer. Now, entrepreneurs in Hamburg, Germany have followed suit with their own 3D printing studio service, called TwinKind. The appointment-only service incorporates a proprietary 3D scanning booth (described as a rig of DSLRs arranged around a subject) to capture a 360-degree portrait of a customer, including all of their clothes and in any pose. TwinKind then tweaks that 3D model and sends it to a in-house 3D printer where it'll make a full-color miniature of that model up to 35 cm tall (just over a foot). A six-inch figure costs $300, which is about the same price as the 32,000 yen that the Japanese pop-up shop charged.

These figures look a lot like the 3D printed miniatures you can buy on Shapeways, like the Sad Keanu figure I bought a few months ago. Those figures--like the Figureprints ones as well--are made of sandstone, a brittle material that leaves a slightly powdery finish. They're not posable, of course, and probably wouldn't survive a drop on concrete. 3D Systems/ZCorp's ZP250 printers are used for the Shapeways/Figureprints/TwinKind services, and they cost $25,000 per printer--which can't make many figures at a time. High capital cost and slow production speed are the biggest barriers for potential 3D printing startups in the US, though TwinKind's founders would be smart to take the scanning portion of their service on the road to reach as many potential customers as possible. San Francisco isn't too far away from Hamburg, right?