Barack Obama Becomes First U.S. President To Be 3D Printed


The Smithsonian Institute revealed the first ever 3D printed sculpture of a U.S. president last week, adding to the collection of Barack Obama portraits in the National Portrait Gallery. The bust was on display at the White House Makers Faire, an event celebrating the use of technology in creative enterprises.

Mashable reports:

A team of Smithsonian 3D 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 3D scanners and SLR cameras to create a reconstruction of his bust.

Next, experts in 3D graphics at the software company Autodesk produced high-resolution models, which were printed using 3D Systems' selective laser sintering printers.

The bust comes as part of the Smithsonian Insitute's X 3D initiative which began in 2013. Aimed at using scanning and imaging technology in order to make artifacts more available to researchers, the X 3D scans can be found online and anyone with a 3D printer can print their own.


  1. Mike says

    From a technological standpoint it is good. HOWEVER, it completely leaves out any CREATIVE work of the all important ARTIST.

    3-D printing is only a tool like photography is. There will probably be good 3-D scans like there are good photographs and bad photographs. One would imagine that there will be good 3-D scan makers and bad 3-D scan makers just like there are excellent photographers and photographers that leave an awful LOT to be desired.

    Use the latest technology ALWAYS but never worship it as a God.

    As a MINDLESS scan it should NEVER have been added to the National Portrait Gallery for the simple reason that it is NOT a PORTRAIT!

  2. Randy says

    I agree, Mike. It’s sort of a photo, not a portrait.

    Still, this is apparently white Obama, so maybe the decision to leave it white makes it appropriate for the gallery.

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