Barack Obama will have an unusual addition to the National Portrait Gallery. (Photo: Smithsonian Institution)
To his list of firsts, Barack Obama can add that he was the first U.S. President to have himself scanned and 3-D printed.
Obama's 3-D printed bust and mold of his face were on display Wednesday, June 18, at the first-ever White House Maker Faire, a celebration of students and entrepreneurs who are using technology to create new products and businesses, according to the Smithsonian Institution.
A team of Smithsonian 3-D digital-imaging specialists scanned the president earlier this year. They used the University of Southern California's Light Stage face scanner to capture Obama's face in high resolution, and handheld 3-D scanners and SLR cameras to create a reconstruction of his bust. [The 10 Weirdest Things Created By 3-D Printing]
Next, experts in 3-D graphics at the software company Autodesk produced high-resolution models, which were printed using 3D Systems' selective laser sintering printers.
The scans and printed models will become part of a collection at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, which showcases multiple images of each president. The 3-D portraits will be added to the museum's current collection of works representing Obama.
The Smithsonian launched a 3-D scanning and imaging program called Smithsonian X 3-D in 2013, to make its museum collections and scientific specimens more widely available to researchers.
The Smithsonian X 3-D collection includes models of the Wright Flyer, a canard biplane that was the first successful heavier-than-air powered aircraft built by the Wright brothers in 1903; the remnants of supernova Cassiopeia A; a whale fossil; and a sixth-century Buddha statue. These objects are available online and anyone with a 3-D printer can print them on a 3-D printer.
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