The United States’ Presidents – few groupings of individuals, if any, have the historical air about them that these 44 special men do. From presidential history buffs, to first graders just learning about the historical influence obama-2which these men had on this nation, the enthusiasm is certainly not lacking.  The Smithsonian Institution is known for their amazing collection of photos, portraits, and plaster life masks of presidents, ranging from George Washington to Barack Obama.

Today, as part of the White House Maker Faire, the Smithsonian unveiled a new piece which will be added to their National Portrait Gallery, a 3D printed bust of the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama. This is the first such piece that will allow future generations the ability to get a first hand view of Obama, during his presidency, in an accuracy so detailed that the imperfections on his skin can be seen.

Earlier this year a Smithsonian-led team met with Mr. Obama, and scanned him using two different methods.

3D Printed Bust of President Obama

3D Printed Bust of President Obama

“We 3D-scanned the face, ear to ear, at extremely high resolution, capturing details down to the pore level of the skin,” said Vincent Rossi, a Smithsonian 3D program officer. “We worked with a team from the University of Southern California, who use this technology to 3D-scan Hollywood actors. And then the Smithsonian 3D team used hand-held structured light scanners to scan the rest of the bust—the sides of the face, under the chin, the back of the head. We put these two data sets together in order to create the model we used for the 3D print.”

The President was very interested in the process, asking questions, and thoroughly enjoying himself. When the bust was unveiled at the White House, there were several individuals taking ‘selfies’ with the 3D printed president.

obama-3Günter Waibel, ‎director of the digitization program office, for the Smithsonian Institute, discussed the technology in further detail, stating that it “really has the potential to connect people to his life and times and legacy with an immediacy that a simple photograph or a painting simply cannot convey.”

3D printing and scanning technologies are certainly creeping their way into every facet of our lives. The number of useful applications of the technology continues to expand at a rapid rate, leading to further adoption and faster innovation within the space.

Let us know what you think about this new way of preserving history, in the 3D printed Obama forum thread at 3DPB.com.

[Source: SmithsonianMag.com, Images: Smithsonian Institute]
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