My girlfriend was pregnant and I wanted to 3D scan her big belly before it was too late. My idea was to go beyond a typical photo and make a small sculpture of her to remember this special time in life. It’s been a quick learning curve, but the results so far are amazing! I’m using an Xbox Kinect to scan objects and people, edit the 3D models in Meshmixer and 3D print them.
I bought the Kinect solely to do 3D scanning. I spent a lot of time researching how this could be done before ending up with the Kinect. There are several Youtube videos explaining how to 3D scan with various types of technologies.
3D scanning technologies
Photogrammetry, reconstructing 3D models from photos of objects, seemed the most easy way forward. 3DF Zephyr offers a free photogrammetry software (3DF Zephyr Free), with some limitations. To get photogrammetry to work you need to take good pictures of the model in good lighting conditions, preferably using a SLR camera with lots of megapixels. As an amateur wanting to try it out I downloaded a package of demo images from 3DF Zephyr and also went forward using my old iPhone 5s.
Even with my phone I managed to create 3D models. The free version is limited to only 50 photos, and this really takes away detail. There was no easy way to convert the resulting 3D model to an .stl file and print it. Furthermore, the whole process of cleaning up pictures and stitching them together was tedious and not very intuitive or simple.
I then bought a used Xbox 360 Kinect sensor.
Xbox 360 Kinect Sensor
I quickly found out that the connector was not the typical USB connector I could connect into my PC. I found that a specific Kinect adapter was needed, but this product was discontinued from Microsoft. Another option was to order a Chinese clone on Ebay, but this would set the project on hold for a month.
I was in a hurry. My girlfriend was pregnant and at the time things could happen any moment!
I decided to cut the kinect cable, figure out the wires, solder on a USB connector and a 12V socket. It took me several hours to figure out how to solder the wires correctly, but in the end I found Peter’s Blog ( http://make.petervdb.be/tag/kinect/ ) and his post explains perfectly how to wire the Kinect 360. I see no reason to explain this again here. It took me approximately 30 minutes to solder the wires together, it was pretty straight forward. When I connected the Kinect to the PC, the Kinect depth images popped up instantly!
I used KScan3D v.1.2 scanning software. I found 3D Revolution‘s tutorial on Youtube and simply followed on and did exactly what he did in the video. Very simple and well explained.
I asked my girlfriend to come into the room where I had the Kinect on a table on top of a small stack of books. She turned around clockwise while the Kinect scanned multiple positions. Cleaning up the various point clouds were fairly easy as you could select multiple scans and delete unwanted points in groups, next converting the clouds to a mesh and then finally export to .stl format for 3D printing.
My goal was to print a 400 mm tall figure, but for experimentation I made some smaller figures in 1:20.
Further experimentation with Meshmixer
When I got to the point where I actually had the scanned model and could 3D print it I wanted to do more. In Meshmixer there are a lot of possibilities to be creative with .stl files, meshes and polygons.
I wanted to create an artistic representation of the model and aimed for a voronoi tessellation type of pattern. The scanned mesh model had a lot of detail and small polygons so I needed to reduce the polygon size in certain areas, and play around with various brushes and tweaking settings as I went on.
Click the images for better view and explanations.
This was my first time using Meshmixer and I was blown away with what I created. The figure now had a beautiful pattern while maintaining the human form and shape of the belly. What I found fascinating was the simplicity of the form and the complexity in the pattern surrounding it. The mesh was detailed and at the same time smooth.
3D printing these now complex shapes needed some careful tuning and checking. Using the Cura slicer I went over the layer views several times tweaking the settings to make it right. The models showed plenty of overhangs due to the patterns, but printing these with supports were not an option. Removing supports on a model like this would be close to impossible.
The patterns printed nicely even without support material for the overhangs. The models are hollow and light weight – between 50g-100g.
The three final 1:20 models are great when displayed separately but also together.
Thank you so much for your interest in this project! I hope you found it interesting and if you like it please let me know what you think by using the comments section below! 😀