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Disney Researchers Create an Innovative 3D Printing Technique for Realistic Figurine Hairstyles

A new method of 3D printing has been developed by scientists at the University of Zaragoza and Disney Research Zurich which allows the exact reproduction of the hairstyles of an individual on miniature statues. 

The process of producing a miniature statue, which resembles a person, firstly involves scanning the face of the individual using sensors such as a depth camera.  This data is used to create a 3D model of these facial features, which is then read by a 3D printer in order to produce the physical model.  However until now, most 3D printing systems did not have the capability to exactly reproduce the hairstyle of an individual.

This new technique is capable of integrating the hairstyle of an individual, thereby allowing the production of more realistic 3D-printed figurines. The reproduction of a hairstyle fibre by fibre is not the objective of the new method, as it is not possible to miniaturize this level of intricacy using existing 3D printers.

Stylized Hair Capture

Taking inspiration from artistic sculptures such as Michelangelo's David, the researchers decided to use a method in which the essence of an individual’s hairstyle is reproduced in a solid helmet form. This allows the overall flow of the hair, the appearance of directional wisps and its colour in the 3D-printed figurines to all still be retained.

In this method, several high quality colour images of the subjects head are taken before a rough geometry of their hair surface is computed. The colours captured in these images are then matched with the coarse geometry.

The next step of the process is colour stylisation, which involves reduces the level of in order to allow the practical miniaturisation and reproduction of the model, whilst still retaining the defining features of the hairstyle of the subject.

The final step of this method is the incorporation of the model’s geometric details in a manner which matches the colour stylisation. 

This method can also be used to reproduce the facial hair of a person or even the fur of an animal on a miniature figure to a high level of detail.   

Alexander Chilton

Written by

Alexander Chilton

Alexander has a BSc in Physics from the University of Sheffield. After graduating, he spent two years working in Sheffield for a large UK-based law firm, before relocating back to the North West and joining the editorial team at AZoNetwork. Alexander is particularly interested in the history and philosophy of science, as well as science communication. Outside of work, Alexander can often be found at gigs, record shopping or watching Crewe Alexandra trying to avoid relegation to League Two.

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