Additive manufacturing or 3D printing enables many extraordinary things, but one area which the technology really excels at is preserving, commemorating, and simply adding a special touch to those people and things which are close to us.
We’ve covered stories related to 3D printed urns and figurines of deceased relatives, as well as all sorts of other amazing uses for the technology from a personal standpoint. One story out of the Gainesville, Florida area, however, really struck a nerve with me and I thought I’d share it with all of you.
Christopher Hoffman, a software developer of OPIE Software in Gainesville, recently suffered the tragic loss of his older brother James, who on June 28th passed away after a severe cut to his arm on a window. Christopher was very close to James and they both shared an attraction to the latest advancements in technology. Because of this, Christopher decided to do something special to commemorate this special person who is no longer with him.
“This last week we gathered all of his friends and family and held a memorial to celebrate his life,” explained Christopher. “It was a day of telling stories, showing pictures, laughing and crying with all of those lives James touched. I wanted to do something special for my family. Near the end of 2014 I started to get into 3D scanning using the Xbox Kinect.”
Last Christmas when Christopher came home he happened to bring his Xbox 360 Kinect with him and had the opportunity to use it to scan his brother James. Using a free version of a software created by Occipital called Skanect, which is feature-rich and perfect for scanning human faces along with a variety of other objects, Christopher was able to slowly scan James, as the software rendered the data into a 3D model.
“I had the idea of creating a memorial statuette of James, one that guests could hold in their hands, and my parents could place next to his urn,” Christopher explained.
He took the scan he had saved from last Christmas and cleaned it up using MeshMixer. From there he designed a plaque, using SolidWorks, on which the bust of James would eventually stand. The entire process only took him approximately an hour’s time. Next it was time to turn the model into Gcode and print it out. After 6 hours the print was complete, and Christopher was able to hold a memory of his older brother in his hands.
At the memorial in June, Christopher placed the bust next to all the other pictures surrounding James’ urn. Guests would pick it, tell stories about how James had impacted their life in one way or another, and set it back down. It turned out to be an incredible way for one brother to commemorate another with a shared love for technology.
“I’ve used 3D printing in a variety of projects, but I think using it to share memories of my older brother has been my favorite use by far,” stated Christopher.
Below you will find two videos created by Christopher for his YouTube Channel, ‘Hoffman Engineering,’ the first which shows the 3D printed bust of his brother and the second showing how he is able to use the Xbox Kinect to 3D scan and print people. We want to thank Christopher for sharing this touching story with the 3D printing community. Feel free to provide your feedback in the Commemorating a Brother forum thread on 3DPB.com.