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New business at Washington Square uses high tech scanners to create perfect models of shoppers.



TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Richman Siansimbi, senior mechanical consultant engineer with Digital Scan 3D,  demonstrates how the 3D scanner scans clients in the 3D Shapify booth at Washington Square Mall. You’ve heard of “selfies,” but a new business at Washington Square is hoping to put a new term in your lexicon — “shapies.”

Shoppers at Washington Square mall have likely noticed the large rotating white booth outside of Macy’s department store this week.

Just strike a pose, like a model on a catwalk, and the spinning cameras do the rest. But the rotating scanners are doing more than just snapping your picture.

Instead, the digital scans are uploaded to a computer, which can create a life-like figurine of the person.

The small statues — known as shapies — aren’t molded, but printed using a 3D printer, which lays down millimeter-thick layer upon layer to create the complex shapes.

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Figurines made from a 3D printer are produced by getting a scans from clients from a 3D scanner at the 3D Shapify booth at Washington Square Mall. The 3D Shapify booth opened on Friday and has had no trouble drawing a crowd, employee Lauren Thurman said.

“People think it’s either really freaky or really cool,” she said. “One or the other.”

The figurines have already been a big hit with shoppers, said Richman Siansimbi, lead engineer at Digital 3D, which helped design the technology.

“We were fully packed,” he said. “It has been busy.”

It’s not science fiction. Once expensive digital equipment, 3D printers and scanners are more available than ever. In Tigard, the UPS store began offering full 3D printing in 2014. Sherwood High School teacher John Niebergall has working with middle schools and high schools across the state , and is had a 3D printer since 2008 to make this technology more common place.

Shapify uses a series of rotating scanners to create a 360-degree model of the person, then uses 3D printers to create, from scratch, a 4-inch to 9-inch tall model of that person.

It takes a few hours to print the figurines, which customers usually pick up the next day.

Siansimbi’s company, Digital 3D, has been working on technology for 3D scanners for years, but had few practical applications for it, he said. Partnering with 3D company Artec, the two teams began working on products that they could take to market.

“They had the products. We had the software — let’s work together,” Siansimbi said.

In 2014, the companies worked with the Smithsonian Institute to create a 3D digital model of President Barack Obama.

Initially, the companies designed handheld scanners, but that technology was labor intensive, Siansimbi said.

“It takes anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours to scan and process,” Siansimbi said. “We wanted to come up with an automated way of doing things that was faster.”

The finished result, 3D Shapify, needs only 12 seconds to take a full-body scan, and about 15 minutes to prepare the image for printing.

There are only three Shapify booths in the U.S.; Washington Square’s booth is joined by one that opened earlier this year in New Jersey and one at Artec’s American headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif.

Siansimbi said that he’d like to see Shapify booths spread in popularity.

“That’s the plan,” he said. “Our goal is have these all over the country.”

But 3D scanning and printing is still on the expensive-side. A 4½-inch tall model from Shapify costs $139, a 9-inch tall model is about $300.

However, those that have a 3D printer of their own can purchase the 3D file of their body scan for $69 and print it themselves.

Unlimited applications

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Richman Siansimbi, senior mechanical consultant engineer with Digital Scan 3D,  descibes how the 3D scanner scans clients in the 3D Shapify booth at Washington Square Mall.Siansimbi said the technology is part of a growing technological revolution.

“I think 10 years from now, there will be lots of applications that you can use (3D scan) data for,” Siansimbi said.

In the future, tailors will have exact measurements on clients thanks to 3D scans, Siansimbi said. People working to lose weight will be able to track their progress using the technology.

“The applications are unlimited,” he said. “Anything that a 2D picture will do, this will do, but better.”

The company may be starting with figurines, but Siansimbi said that the technology can also be used in the automotive and aerospace industries, and can help make prosthetic limbs for amputees, Siansimbi said.

“For people without a limb, we can design them something that will have a custom fit,” he said.

Companies can use the technology to reverse engineer products, or help with quality control.

“If you don’t have the schematics for a part you need to manufacture, you can take a scan and get them,” he said. “That file then can be used to redesign or make changes to the products. If you are a company who has products manufactured, how can you check to make sure that they are manufactured correctly? You can scan them.”

Museums are also getting into the habit of 3D scanning their collections for posterity, Siansimbi said.

“You can archive that data and preserve it for future use,” Siansimbi said.

Shapify’s booth is the latest in luxury technology businesses that the mall has courted in recent years. In 2012, the mall opened a Tesla Motors showroom, the only Tesla store in Oregon.

“This is a bit of an experiment,” Siansimbi said. “We wanted to take it to the mall and see what we could learn and apply it.”

From here, he said, the sky is the limit.

“It’s coming about at the right time,” Siansimbi said. “3D printing is so accessible now. Some people have 3D printers at their homes.”

3D Shapify is located at Washington Square mall, 9585 S.W. Washington Square Road, in Tigard.


By Geoff Pursinger
Reporter
503-546-0744
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