Tom and Tracy Hazzard go Hollywood – Hollywood 3D Printing, that is – in order to understand full-body 3D scanning from expert Miles Guidon. Explore the world of 3D scanning with Tom and Tracy as they each get scanned from head to toe. After listening to the podcast, check out their show notes blog to see photos, screenshots, and a video of the process. Listen intently to learn how accurate 3D scans are and take home some 3D scanning tips for getting the best scan results. You will also have a hardware and software overview as well as some post-processing pitfalls.
Listen to the podcast here:
Honey We 3D Shrunk Ourselves With Miles Guidon Of Hollywood 3D Printing
We decided that we were going to go and learn a little bit about 3D scanning as it relates to 3D printing.
I wanted a mini-me. It’s fun.
We decided to look up and find out where we can get ourselves scanned. We live in Southern California, South Los Angeles by maybe an hour’s drive. We figured that we’re in greater LA. There’s got to be a bunch of places that have this service.
There were only two that were legitimate. A bunch of them looked like a bunch of people working out of their garage or something. There were more of those but there were two legitimate ones and because it happened to be in your brother’s old stomping grounds, I chose West Hollywood.
My brother works there and used to live there. He now lives in the Valley.
It was around the corner from his old apartment. I knew where it was, so I said, “Let’s pick them.” When we called them up, they were great, so it’s Hollywood 3D Printing.
We were able to make an appointment the day before with not a lot of notice. They do a lot of different things at Hollywood 3D Printing, but this is a part of a service they do. Some people might want to get themselves scanned for having a model printed to be on the top of their wedding cake, to be a part of a trophy or something simple like that.
They do tabletop scanning, as well as people scanning or large object scanning. They also do that for some of their clients and they do a lot of work for the gaming industry, which was cool.
It’s Hollywood 3D printing and Miles Guidon is the owner of that business and the person that we met with. We did an onsite interview. We learned a lot and you will too.
You get to come along with us as we ask questions as it happened to us.
Let’s talk to Miles.
We’re here with Miles Guidon of Hollywood 3D Printing. Miles, it was great to meet you.
You as well.
Thank you for being willing to talk to us about your business. We arrived here to have ourselves scanned and make a 3D model of myself and Tracy.
We thought it would be fun to have little mini-us.
We want to experience the scanning process, learn a little more about it, but also have those models for our promotional use related to our show. We’ve never used scanning with 3D printing before.
Understanding a bit about scanning would be interesting as well because we do original design. Our designs are all created on the computer, so we don’t start from something, but a lot of people do.
Since our show is all about the what of 3D printing, can you help explain to our audience a little bit about 3D scanning? I understand there are different quality levels. We don’t know much about it, so you’re the expert.
There are two different types of scanning. What it comes down to the way we look at it and the way we talk about our customers with it is the type of end result that you want. Are you trying to reverse engineer something and work off of it? Are you trying to one-to-one recreate an object and to be able to create a duplicate of it or show it electronically or digitally? Are you trying to get a low-medium passable resolution of something small that’s not super consequential but something fun? Like a representation of something that people can understand.
The high-resolution type scanning, I typically described as a detailed photography session where you take individual scan sessions of an object from multiple different angles. You have to orient the part differently each time you take a scan. In the end, you have this sea of image fragments that you then pick multiple similar points and you tie them together. The advanced software will help stitch the object together based on those similar points. That’s the drudgery of 3D scanning. It takes a long time but you end up with a high-resolution model on the computer.
The scanning technology we use for this goes down to about 1/10 or 0.08 millimeters resolution. This works for small objects but not so great for large objects with the type of scanning that we do. There are scanners that do this resolution for larger objects like car companies or aerospace companies that have these types of devices or the companies that make those military video games. They’ll have these types so they get the Special Forces people and they scan them in. That’s how they start the artwork.
That’s why you see those little points. Those points are the stitching points.
Sometimes you can put little stickers on like white stickers with black dots. Those aid for some of the hard to find places like if you have a flat, featureless surface that you’re scanning. Who knows which point is which so the dots help you do that? Normally you can get away without dots if it’s an interesting surface where you can see what’s what. The other type of scanning we do here is what I’d call a low medium resolution depth scan. That’s for bodies, people’s pets, busts. A lot of people are coming in here getting their chest up scanned and that can be done in about 30 seconds. It helps if the person is not taller than you because then you have to get on a stool.
We don’t have that problem here.
Fortunately, Miles, you’re pretty tall.
I know. I was getting a little worried. I was sizing you up when you came in. I was like, “Am I going to have to get a step stool. I haven’t had to do that yet.” That’s fun. It’s quick. People come in and out and we’d send them the color files and they can put them online. There are all sorts of fun services like Sketchfab. You can put it up online for everybody to see. Besides the two types of technologies of scanning, it’s important to know what the person needs to do with the data.
If you have somebody who needs to get a scan of something that they want to alter, we’ve learned it’s important to get that information from the customer before you do anything so you can set expectations. We’ve had people here who will scan something and they’ll take it and go, “I’m just going to slice a few holes in it. I’m going to bend it here and great.” I turned this 0.25-inch thing into a 3/8-inch thing with some holes along with it. You can’t scan a pipe and make a flute out it. Once you have the scan, you have to do some manual labor to surface fit actual features in software.
It’s important for our readers to understand because the common perception or assumption is that you could acquire a scanning tool peripheral for your computer. Scan something, go and print it or use it for some purpose. What you’re saying is, there’s more to it.
The attempt isn’t to scare people off. 3D scanning is still a fantastic tool and it always will be. If you take SolidWorks, for example, and you import an STL file or something like that, SolidWorks is aware of the XYZ Cartesian or where it is in space, because otherwise, it wouldn’t be able to display it. For SolidWorks’ toolboxes to be able to interact with that, it needs to have knowledge of the fact that it’s a real surface and a closed surface because SolidWorks will interact differently with different types of surfaces. What you’ll do is surface fit a model that you have until the surfaces that you’ve created replace the data that you imported.
Miles, what we intend to do is the low to medium resolution scan of our full bodies. What device do you do that with? What product?
How does it work?
The main product that enables it is called the Structure Sensor of a company called Occipital. They were a successful Kickstarter brand. What they do is they have a depth sensor, unlike some of the other depth sensors like the Kinect.
The Kinect like for the Xbox 360?
That’s right. It’s a pattern projection.
How does the device sense the object?
The Occipital does most of the work. The important part of the 3D scanner is it projects a light map onto the subject or whatever’s in front of it. There’s a sensor on the occipital as well that senses that light coming back to see how close or how far something is away.
It’s like transporting a grid and seeing the distortion of it.
You’ve seen people put IR filters on subjects with these scanners and it looks this crazy net of light. It’s wild. It also uses the RGB, Red, Green, Blue of the camera from the iPad. What I have here is the Occipital. They designed a cool mount for all of the iPads. I have an iPad Mini here that uses the camera on the iPad with the depth data from the Occipital and various types of software. Occipital has its own software but it’s open-source. They have third party software like ScanXL Pro, which enables you to do nice quality scans of the chest up and what I call bus scans all on the iPad without involving any extra software.
That’s great device. It’s pretty cool, small and looks easy to handle.
It’s easy to use.
What are some tips that we can talk to our readers about that create better scans? Whether you’re using a scanner that’s a desktop scanner with the lazy Susan thing. They have some of those, but what can they do to make a better scan?
For desktop scanning, even and good lighting. There’s nothing worse than going through the whole scanning process and realizing that the whole side of it is dark and having to redo it. Even with good lighting, you can’t underestimate the quality of that. Also, if you’re doing something that’s not a tabletop, if you’re walking around a subject, whatever amount of space you think you need, triple it. When you walk around someone and you can’t back up to get too far away and suddenly your scans are lost because it can’t register and it’s too close. The depth sensor has a cutoff. You can’t be too close or too far to something. If you’re walking around or if you’re trying to set up an area to walk around, make sure you have enough space.
Those are great tips. Thank you.
What kind of people are coming in and getting scanned?
Most people who are coming in and getting scanned are enthusiasts. People want to share it with their family and some people want to scan themselves. We had someone come in and we scanned an old bearded dragon.
In case it was on its way.
Their words were that, “She’s on her last legs.” It was fun. It stayed still. The subject needs to be completely still. Pets are difficult. Lucy would not do well. Most people are enthusiasts. We had some people want to come to get a T-pose so they can animate themselves in Blender or something like. We’ll do that but mostly it’s non-industry people who are interested in it.
Has it taken off with the bride and groom kind of thing yet?
More people want to get cake toppers made, but what you find is the resolution there is you probably want to go a little bit higher end than the Occipital sensor because the Occipital sensor has a good price point and it covers a lot of needs. There are other scanners like the Artec Scanner, those are more in the $5,000 to $20,000 range that do depth-based scanning but they’re much higher resolution and have more technical tools. I feel that’s where people who want to get good cake toppers of themselves for when they can be showing it off to a lot of people go.
Do you have a higher resolution scanning capability as well as that device?
The device for high resolution is what we call object scanning. That’s what I refer to as the intense photography session or something like that. The Artec Scanners are still handheld. It looks like a futuristic gun or something like that. You walk around pointing at the person. The scanner we have is a Geomagic Capture Scanner manufactured by 3D Systems. It is a little silver device on a tripod. It looks like a large bar with multiple sensors on it. It displays down a blue pattern on a table, you put the object under it and move it around.
It’s not something you would walk around a subject with. That’s not how the process works. There are other scanners still that are arms with gear encoders. You take the arm and it has a pen at the end of it. You touch it in one place and you touch it in another place. It will tell you all the distances or you can rub it along a surface. If you wanted to contour the surface of a wing, you would take it and you rub it all around one section of the wing and it would give you that exact contour and space. Those are the high-end manufacturing devices.
That’s physically touching the object and recording those points of dimensional space.
It’s amazing to watch it. It’s a company called FARO Technologies. They’re the leader in doing that with the gear encoded arms, the silver encoded arms.
What about the translation from the scan and the model that’s created from that, and then 3D printing it? Is the resolution better than the 3D printing output?
The funny thing with color scanning is when you keep the color on the object, the resolution looks much better. It’s a trick that your brain plays on you. You see that you see the nose, eyebrows, and chin and say, “Look at all that great detail,” because it’s a photo. When you take it away, you see the real detail. That’s true with anything, whether it’s a high-resolution scan or low-resolution scan. The 3D printed resolution is faithful to the resolution on the scan unless the scan resolution exceeds your printer’s capabilities. Let’s say you’re using a MakerBot for example. You can print with PLA normally with a resolution of 100 microns. That’s pretty good to do this type of print.
If someone does have a 3D printer, but they want to do the scan, and they can try and print themselves, it’s red, black and white. It’s not full color.
That should work for us. We have a MakerBot and we have another printer as well.
We’ll try it out that way and try something else. What do you guys do when you do the full color? What 3D printers do you send it out to have those printed?
You typically send it out to somebody with Z Corp printer. People still use them. They’re newly manufactured. They’re not called those anymore. Those are the powder printers. That’s what everyone calls it. Now they’re called ProJet 660. It’s the same thing. It’s the width of an upright piano and it’s got multiple stations on it. That’s fantastic full-color quality. It’s made out of glue infused gypsum powder, which is what you find inside drywall.
The color on that tends to be muted and has that faded look.
When it comes out of the printer before you dunk it in superglue, it’s faded. You then dunk it in superglue and that saturation of the liquid brings out the color, which is why a lot of apparel companies need that technology. As much as Nike would love to print a shoe that’s a high resolution, you need color as well.
Let’s get starting and experience it.
I had the most fun that day. It was a great idea for us to get out of the microphone studio and go and interview someone on site. It is, so that was great for us. It was a lot of fun to experience it firsthand and to go through it, but I don’t know that my excitement and experience in-house of having it done is reflected in the results of it. I’m a little disappointed in the way the results turned out. It’s not because they didn’t do their job at Hollywood 3D Printing. I thought they did a great job and they were upfront about how difficult it was but I expected it to be a little easier to be ready to print it.
I did too. The way I would say it is, I had a little bit higher expectations for the results. I knew I was buying a medium low-quality scan, but I didn’t realize how much may be missing in that scan or how much work it was going to be after the fact to get a scan that would be usable.
I don’t think most people realize because of the way we do these episodes or whatever. We did this in early May 2015. We went there and had ourselves scanned. We waited because it took us long to clean up the scans and get it to where we wanted it to. Also, because life got in the way a bit.
Let’s not mislead people. We haven’t been spending months editing this. It’s been off and on as we’ve had time. Usually, we do an episode a week or two later it’s published. This one, we need to have time in our schedule to experience the scans.
Our plan had been to print it out and have the print ready for the episode and we decided we’re not going to print it at this point.
We’re not satisfied with it as a representation of ourselves to use in promoting our business.
It’s not because Tom didn’t do a good job of making me a little skinnier and a little taller.
I wasn’t going to mention that.
Which is what I asked him to do, which you can do. That’s what’s great about these scans. You can manipulate them. They’re a model. He did a great job of doing that.
The scan didn’t represent your true self. I was making it what it should have been.
I came off having a baby.
Here’s the thing. One thing about this episode, please go through the blog post because there is a treasure trove of images, information and things that we shot. There will be some links on YouTube and some videos that we shot while being scanned. If you don’t know a lot about scanning, there’s a lot to be learned.
You can follow the process with us and you can see what parts were dissatisfied with. The real point is Tom was able to rebuild the structural model that’s underneath it where our pant leg was completely missing and you’ll see that in a photo that there’s a complete hole around my pant leg, my jeans, or my shoes. There’s a whole bunch missing around my shoes, so you couldn’t print that and not have the model fall over if you didn’t repair the model. We structurally repaired it but now there’s all the detail missing. The color information is also missing. You have to even do something like take it into Photoshop and edit it. There has to be a whole post-production process that happens to repair the color information as well and you have to recreate it from scratch in a sense. You have to build and design it.
That’s not easy. The stuff that I did was fairly simple to fill it in. I was hoping once I filled in some of these holes, that the image map would lay over the additional geometry I put in there. Maybe that can still happen but it takes some skill that I haven’t learned yet. We’re not in the scanning business, so I’m probably not going to go too deep into that. One thing we’ve learned from this experience, while it was a good one, there’s a lot more to be learned about scanning. We can have 1 or 2 future episodes about scanning at different levels and different depths.
I’d love it if somebody has a scanner out there, they want us to test or they’re bringing out something new especially a product scanner because that’s more of our forte than scanning people. For people who think that they’re going to be able to scan objects, it’s a great idea for an antique car to do some 3D print replacement parts of things you can’t buy.
My ‘72 Karmann Ghia Convertible has a few little plastic parts on there that have worn out and discolored and I’d like to replace them. It would be a lot easier to scan them than to create that geometry from scratch.
I’m afraid that it’s as much work. That would be an interesting study for us to do from a product standpoint. If we took this knob, we scanned it, we did it and you also then created it, we could see how fast one way or the other is. Maybe because you’re so good at modeling, that modeling would be faster for you but that’s an interesting thing. If you think you’re going to go into a business model of doing this and using a 3D scanner and you don’t understand the results that you’re going to get from that scanner and how much work you’re going to have to do to create the full model to be able to print it.
You could be in trouble quickly in the business and not be profitable at all because of the amount of time you’ve got to put in or have certainly potential dissatisfaction in your job because you’re doing nothing but spending endless time doing this.
That’s the thing about this mini-me. It’s a great idea. Who doesn’t want a wedding topper that looks like you? How fun is that? $100 apiece for a person is a great idea and price.
There is a big market for that from a consumer perspective.
At the end of the day, the $100 we spent, it’s not ready to print yet and it still requires many hours and skill which you may not have as a bride and groom. It may not be your forte, so now you have to spend extra money to have this fixed before you print it. The hidden costs of that either if that’s your business and you’re offering it you can’t do it profitably at $100 number one. If you’re the bride or groom, you’re going to be dissatisfied if you get it and you can’t print it.
Maybe if somebody invests more money in a better quality scanner, then there isn’t as much post-work to do. We need to find that out. I want to go back to when we went and interviewed the UPS Store in San Diego. They’ve been 3D printing for a long time but they got a scanner and we were working with it. This is one of those ones where you put the object on a turntable and rotates. Remember what Mike from the UPS store was telling us in order to get objects to be read properly by the infrared scanner, he had to do something like put baby powder on the object.
He had to do some bunch of tricks.
It wasn’t only sticking an object on there, push the button, let it scan and you’re good to go.
I know what it was. It was spray foot powder. He had that mineral makeup that they sell. It’s a makeup brush with mineral makeup, which is a powder foundation. He was using that in some areas but he had spray. He said spray foot powder works best.
The point here is, scanning is not plug and play. I’m sure there’s a lot of great scanning equipment out there and I’m not trying to knock those companies but from a user perspective, it’s advanced stuff.
Think about this. This is a big opportunity for algorithms to be written and for re-inputting information. This is the right market because people want to do this.
They do but they want it to be as simple as follow the instructions and scan this object. It’s making a mesh model. It’s also taking in the color information, taking photos of the subject and matching them up. I’ve had issues even with the files we got having the bitmap of the color information, not loading in with the model and I’m not sure why that’s not working as well as it should. It should be easier than that.
It’s going to get there because there’s a lot of interest in it.
It will and it’s also going to improve.
It was good for us to try this out because it says to us, we were right that we don’t want to be in the scanning business. That’s not our business. I’d rather us create designs from scratch. It’s good to know, for us.
We may even have a need in the future for an isolated thing for a client that it makes sense to scan something rather than to create geometry.
We now have a source.
We do have a source but there’s still more to be learned. Business opportunities are out there for people looking to get into this industry.
3D scanning is a wide-open industry now. There’s a lot of good open-source things like the Occipital and all of those things that are out there that are information for making scanners and being able to make them easier. There’s so much out there.
I’m having them be something that attaches to the iPad like they had. It used the iPad, but it was not just the iPad. You had to buy this device and have the software. It looked pretty sophisticated as he was doing it. I was impressed when we were there. It was after the fact that I’m not as enthused as I was when we were there.
There’s also a lag time and that happens all the time with it. When there’s this lag time between being able to have it done and get a print. That even happens even with 3D printer sales. When you get it and you think, “I can print,” and you print the first little bracelet and it comes out cool and you don’t print anything for three months that is cool like that again because you’re learning how to do it. It’s a dissatisfaction level that you have to overcome. That’s one of the things that we keep championing that content is so important. In this particular case, it’s not content. It is the cleanup and repair. That service needs to happen as part of the process.
It’s definitely more manipulation after the fact. It’s complicated. If that’s your thing with scanning and you spent a lot of time at the way we have learning CAD software to create geometry, maybe it’s fast for you.
If anyone has any tips out there for cleaning up and fixing the texture map and the bitmap that Tom was mentioning, that would be great. Email us or text us. There’s a whole way to get in touch with us everywhere on at HazzDesign.com. There are a ton of ways.
Also, @HazzDesign on social media. I hope you all enjoyed this interview. Certainly, we enjoyed doing it and there was a lot of good information. If you have more, let us know. Thanks so much. We’ll talk to you next time.
- Hollywood 3D Printing
- Artec Scanner
- 3D Systems
- FARO Technologies
- UPS Store
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