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New 3-D scanning, printing technology creates family member figurines

Samples of figurines made using 3-D scanning and printing technology are seen at Okuyuki Kobo in Kobe in this Feb. 25, 2017 photo. (Mainichi)

KOBE -- A company's new 3-D scanning and printing technology is allowing customers to create figurines out of family members, thanks to developments that allow quick scanning even of moving subjects like infants or pets.

    Over the past few years, there has been an increase in families making memorial figurines, says the Kobe-based company, Okuyuki Kobo, which held an explanatory demonstration of its technology on March 1 and 2 in Tokyo's Minato Ward.

    The company's system was developed in the United States and uses 17 upright bars, around 2.2 meters tall, which contain a total of 89 cameras. Over the course of a second, they twice photograph the subject. The first round of photographs is used to adjust the color and brightness, while the second round takes the 3-D shape of the subject.

    Shohei Tanaka, 44, in charge of technology for the company, says, "In Japan figurine-making with 3-D printers started four or five years ago. The systems that have been previously used take around a minute to scan the subject, so it was impossible to scan a moving one."

    Seventeen upright bars surround a subject to be scanned, on Feb. 25, 2017. They can finish the process in a mere second. The control, as conducted from a computer, seen left, is said to be simple. (Mainichi)

    The scanned image is processed on a computer, and the customer can order among four different types of prints from 7 to 23 centimeters tall. Around one month later, the customer receives their plaster-made figurine. Takahiro Kimura, 54, head of the company's sales department, says, "A notable feature is that we can scan up to four people at once."

    The company says that the control of the system conducted on a computer is simple, and the latest devices can be folded up and transported by van or other vehicle, allowing them to be rented out.

    The figurines cost from 9,800 yen for a single 7-centimeter figurine, to 122,000 yen for four 23-centimeter figurines. Inquiries can be made to Okuyuki Kobo at 078-224-5246 (in Japanese).

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