Last year, Artec 3D unveiled a first in 3D printing: a 3D printed selfie, or “shapie” booth. The booth is something like a cross between a standard photo booth and an airport security scanner–and it’s really been catching on. Users enter and are subjected to a full body scan, which is then used to create a 3D printed sculpture of the individual. Houston-based company 3D Makery partnered with Artec 3D to create the Shapify booth, and now, thanks to 3D Makery’s Nigerian office, Shapify technology is making its first appearance in Africa.
This is welcome news for Africa, as some have expressed concerns about the continent falling behind in terms of the technology that will be crucial for economic success in the near future. Africa’s industry leaders have been urged to pursue 3D printing in earnest, and, while a Shapify booth won’t save lives or drive industrial production, it’s a great way to get the average citizen, particularly in the younger generation, interested in the technology.
“We’re thrilled bringing this advanced 3D tools and knowledgeable support team to help grow Nigeria’s technology business,” said 3D Makery Africa founder Israel Ovirih. “We have had success and satisfaction with this technology and, upon experiencing the technology ourselves, knew it would be a benefit for Nigerians. We are confident customers will embrace this technology. While it’s still wonderful to have collections of photos, this 3D technology offers a new way to revisit a memory with a 3D portrait.”
The new booth was installed in the Ikeja City Mall in Lagos, Nigeria, and, like its counterparts in Houston and New Jersey, utilizes four wide-view, high-resolution scanners to take multiple detailed images of the booth’s occupants from all angles. The installation of the booth was no small matter; a three-day unveiling event took place over a recent weekend and attracted a massive turnout, including celebrities like Ghanian actress Juliet Ibrahim and former Mr. Nigeria Bryan Okwara, all of whom were eager to have their Shapies created.
“3D technology is opening up a whole new world of possibilities and the reward of 3D printing technology is that the scan can be used to produce a full color figurine known as a ‘Shapie,’’ Ovirih continued, describing the appeal of the new booth. “So, rather than a half cocked snapshot you can have a 3D printed sculpture to either keep as your own or give as a gift. The so-called ‘shapies’ use 3D printing technology and designed to bring joy and happiness each time a person gazes upon the ‘Mini-Me.’”
Ovirih described 3D technology as the “fourth revolution,” which will disrupt the lives of the region’s people in a positive way. He went on to assert that 3D printing will outshine every other kind of technology, facilitate employment for young people, and encourage self-reliance. In that respect, Nigeria’s Shapify booth is more than just a fun novelty; it may be one of the markers of Africa’s shift into 3D technology. If that’s the case, those who attended the recent Ikeja City Mall unveiling can say they were there for the start of a technological revolution – and they have the shapies to prove it.