The University of Southampton

3D model heads

Published: 27 November 2013

Dr Jonathon Hare and his colleague Dr Sina Samangooei from the University of Southampton’s Web and Internet Science Group have been 3D printing model heads of some well-known people based on obsolete technology.

Sina managed to acquire a number of floppy disks containing 3D scans of people’s heads that were made in the late 80s/early 90s by his dad, who worked for a start-up company doing 3D scanning. These disks and data were in an obscure format that can't be used on today’s computers, so Jon and Sina have been doing a bit of digital archaeology to try and recover the data.

This has been challenging as they had to find various bits of hardware, like floppy drives, that aren't common anymore and also do a lot of digging to understand the format of the disks. They started with no more knowledge than that they came from a 3D scanner in the 1980's and that the format was highly non-standard.

They have now however managed to recover some of the data and get it into a modern format that they can work with and have now managed to print a number of models on a homemade, kit-built, 3D printer. There are 51 scans, of which 27 are complete’ and they’ve printed six unique models so far. Some of the famous people they have modelled include:

Maggie Philbin – British TV presenter; for an episode of Tomorrow’s World Mohammad-Reza Shajarian – Internationally renowned Persian Singer Hussein bin Talal – past King of Jordan Hassan Kassai – Iconic master of Persian classical music

There was also a scan of a sculpture of Grigoris Afxentiou – who is considered a national hero in Cyprus.

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