3-D photo booth creates timeless keepsakes, figurines that look just like you

Posted on June 4, 2015

3-D printing touches nearly every facet of our lives. For the artist, it can create whatever you imagine, or a hand for an amputee. And, now, for that narcissist in us all: One business at Washington Square Mall is using 3-D printing to create mini-me figurines.

It’s called Shapify, and more than 350 people have stepped inside since it opened about a month ago, said Richman Siansimbi, senior mechanic consultant engineer with Digital Scan 3D, the company that distributes the technology.

To create a statue, a person stands in the center of a circular platform surrounded by white backdrops with four scanners attached. The scanners rotate 360 degrees around the person and, in just 12 seconds, capture a 3-D image.

Washington Square Mall is home to the third 3-D photo booth called Shapify, which can produce a figurine that looks just like you.

The data is sent to a cloud-based server, and the figurine is constructed off site using a 3D printer that prints in color. About one week later, you could go home with your own “shapie,” a play on the word “selfie.”

“It’s a step up from the 2-D picture,” said Siansimbi.

The technology has been used to create figurines of pregnant women, grandkids, grandparents and newlyweds, said Siansimbi. Some people have turned to shapies in lieu of a traditional family portrait.

Mark Thompson, of Portland, took his elderly parents to the booth to have a figurine made as a gift for them and a keepsake for him.

“When they die, you know, rather than a portrait, [the figurine] could be sitting in a cabinet with other stuff,” said Thompson, 64. “It’s not like a photo. It is you. You don’t look better than you look. You don’t look worse than you look.”

Sonika and Pankaja Aswal, of Portland, came out Tuesday to get their scan for their 15th wedding anniversary.

“It will always be with us,” said Sonika Aswal. “And, we’re not getting any younger, right? When we’re old, it would be nice to say, ‘OK, this is how we looked.’ ”

“In 3-D,” Pankaja Aswal added.

The couple added that they’d like to do this regularly with their infant daughter to capture various stages of her life.

“I think everybody should do this,” said Sonika Aswal. “Everybody changes. Even kids, when they see these later — how they were — it’s a different feeling. It’s just like a picture, but 3-D.”

Artec 3D, a Luxembourg-based company that manufactures 3-D scanners, worked with Digital Scan 3D to create the booth. The technology first made its debut in Europe about 10 months ago when British-based supermarket chain Asda sought to launch the booths in its stores.

Besides Tigard, the Shapify Booth is only located in two places in the United States: New Jersey and Palo Alto. Siansimbi expects that number to grow as more people buy and lease the Shapify technology as their own business. You can also rent a booth for weddings or corporate events.

“If you want a buy a booth like this it’s $180,000. If you want to lease it for a year it’s $99,000… There’s no 3-D scanner that I know that can scan in 12 seconds,” said Siansimbi, adding the prices don’t include a printer. The Washington Square Mall Shapify Booth is owned and operated by Digital Scan 3D.

Getting scanned is free, and potential customers can receive a link to their 3-D image online. The data of the 3-D image can be purchased for $69. Statues themselves cost between $139 and $299 and come in sizes ranging from 4.5-inches to 9-inches tall.

“The biggest thing to me is the data itself. The figurine is good, but the data to me is a little more valuable,” said Siansimbi. “Ten years from now, or when I’m long gone, my grandkids can look at my face, into my eyes — they will definitely get a good understanding of what I look like.”

Shapify, located just outside Macy’s at the Washington Square Mall, is open seven days a week during mall hours: Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The booth is set to remain open until the end of summer; however, with such positive feedback from customers, Siansimbi said he plans to extend its stay through the holidays.

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