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When I reached my hand into the virtual MAKE Secret Santa hat and drew the name Nick Normal, I knew I needed to pick something special, thoughtful, and creative, because Nick is all of those things. I also knew that it should complement his very own Normalmeme: the (sometimes) recursive 3D printed Nick Normal bust that is all the rage.


You see, Nick managed to get his head scanned and 3D-printed by the good people at MakerBot Industries. He clearly loves this print, because he slips it into odd places and photographs it like his very own personal traveling garden gnome.

I decided Nick needed to create more content for the hungry 3D printers of the world to ingest and then excrete as ABS-plastic artwork. And what better way to create more digital 3D models than his own 3D scanner? So, I’m “giving” Nick a 4DDynamics PicoScan 3D Scanner.

The PicoScan is a structured light, phase measuring profilometry scanner. By projecting a series of special patterns on the object to be scanned (through the Pico projector), and capturing the images (through the camera), the provided PicoScan software can reconstruct the object’s shape in 3D. From the manual: “The Pico Scan uses two types of patterns to compute the 3d shape of the object –gray- code black and white stripes and fringe images with sinusoidal intensity variation. The gray-code patterns are used to determine correspondences between the projector and camera pixels. Fringe patterns are used to compute object shape with sub- pixels precision.” Adding a own turntable to the mix (a lazy susan will do) will allow Nick to capture the full 360-degree object.

Nick can save his models in a few common formats, including STL and OBJ, which he can then bring over to a 3D printer to make as many digital copies as he likes. I warn you: nobody will be safe from the menace of recursive, 3D-printed Nick Normal body parts!

4DDynamics PicoScan 3D Scanner $2599

John Edgar Park

John Edgar Park likes to make things and tell people about it. He works in CG animation at DisneyToon Studios and writes for Make, Boing Boing, and other places online and in print. You can find him at jpixl.net and twitter @johnedgarpark — if you like that sort of thing.


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