Bits and Pieces: Vanity Key to New 3D Apps
The world of 3D printing is a fascinating one, and while the "printing" aspect is strictly an accident of terminology—rendering, replication, whatever term you prefer—we've profiled a few printing companies that have gone down that road. As it stands, 3D is purely ancillary, providing one-off jobs as opposed to volume business. BUT...that doesn't mean 3D won't evolve and turn into a bigger profit center.
All it really takes is a solid storefront and creative developers to unearth a cash cow. One such success story can be found across the pond in the United Kingdom, where the Makies Website allows young girls and boys to forego mass-manufactured Barbies and G.I. Joes and create dolls in their own image, or any image they choose. The dolls, known as Makies, are the creation of MakieLab, led by former television producer Alice Taylor.
The Website to create the customized dolls was designed to enable youngsters to navigate around fashion and anatomical accessories. The clothing options are rather limited, but users can tweak physical characteristics such as face, eyes, eyebrows, nose, mouth and ears, to attain the desired look. It's like having a virtual lump of clay with which you are limited only by your imagination (and the pallets). The site touts that a child can build his/her doll in just 10 minutes, depending upon how specific you want the doll to look.
PC Magazine went through the process of ordering a "one of a kind" doll, which was 3D printed in the U.K. and shipped to its office through DHL in less than two weeks for the princely sum of $115. That tally didn't include shipping or accessories—the crack cocaine of doll collectors. The magazine described the doll's texture as unvarnished porcelain, but it is unbreakable and has the mobility of action figures, which means it doesn't need to spend the next 20 years on a dusty shelf.
This is a remarkable and potentially lucrative venture, especially during the major holidays, when parents are in search of that unique piece that doesn't scream mass-produced. And while the 3D printing market is estimated to touch $8.4 billion by 2020 (according to Marketsand-Markets), we are clearly on the bleeding edge when it comes to application development.
The technology is certainly gaining mainstream appeal. The White House released a video on its official YouTube channel illustrating how a new bust of President Obama was being created using 3D printing, enabling artists to replicate his image with greater precision.
The idea was inspired (and here's where it gets a little creepy) by President Lincoln's death mask. It was fairly common back in the 19th century for images to be saved for posterity by applying a plaster mask to the face of the recently departed. Creepy or not, the exactness of the mask cannot be denied. And now 3D printing can do the same thing via millions and millions of measurements.
These are just two examples of the role 3D printing could play in our society moving forward, and there's definitely a vanity-addled slant to this movement.
YOU PUTIN ME ON?: OK, I must admit that I developed an unhealthy fixation on the man on the left in the photo shown above. He was one of the 750 worldwide printers who visited Manroland Sheetfed's coming-out party for the ROLAND 700 Evolution (see Digital Digest) in Germany last November. The key was how to take this man's picture without giving off a stalker vibe, so I snapped it quickly, then moved on. He didn't seem to notice, or at least he was afraid of making eye contact with me.
As you can see by the inset photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin, there is more than a little resemblance between the men. In fact, it is my contention that Vlad dropped in to take a closer look at the Evolution press as a possible enhancement to the country's in-plant print shop. He decided to upgrade an old fleet of ABDick duplicators. Right?
I've also allowed for the possibility that I'm full of crap.
SPEAKING OF GERMANY: It had been about five years since I last visited Germany, but there clearly seems to be a Western movement afoot.
The culture seems more Americanized than it did the last time I visited, or perhaps since I'd been there three times previously, maybe the foreign aura has worn off. Still, the television and radio exposure was decidedly U.S. flavored, though the Germans seem fascinated by mid-1990s pop/rock. And just when you think you've escaped Creed...yikes.
One thing that hasn't changed and is a startling reminder that you are no longer in Kansas anymore, is the high volume of smoking. It seemed as if everyone was firing up a cigarette. In fact, Frankfurt Airport has its own Camel Smoking Lounge. Those Germans love their smokes. PI