January 28, 2019 | Younes Chahid


The idea of the project started after seeing the high interest of students to get 3D scanned and 3D printed. Since every year we aim to have a charity event, we thought this would be the way to go. Any student from the university was able to come, and for a symbolic price, get 3D scanned and if they want have a 3D printed version of their scan.


The design in this case was gotten from 3D scanning. The device used was a simple Kinect camera (personally bought for around £5 pounds from a charity shop, just make sure it includes the usb adapter) and a pro version of Skanect which we bought for around €120, it is possible to use Skanect for free, but the software limits the quality of the outputted mesh to 5000 polygons.

The process of scanning was done by Matthew Heath and is quite straightforward after a few tries. It starts by the student sitting in a chair, looking forward and trying the best not to move in any direction (not as easy as it sounds !). The holder of the Kinect camera then starts the scanning process in skanect and try to rotate around the student and aim from different angles (especially the chin, we always forget about the chin).

A live heat map is shown in the computer screen to assist in knowing if the 3D scanner is close or far from the target.

the 3D scan can then be edited in Skanect to cut unwanted areas, fill holes, smooth out the design and finally texture it.

Finally, before 3D printing the design, the latter can be edited in meshmixer, the main edit can be scaling or related to optimising the shape for the chosen 3D printing process, in this case FDM, which meant ideally removing the need for supports.

For example, as seen below, the hair of one of the students was slightly edited forward. This saved both material, 3D printing time and also made sure that the surface is smooth (using supports usually leaves a rough surface). The base was also flattened to ease the printing process.

Non edited (left) edited (right)

3D Printing

The printer used was our Ultimaker 3 Extended, we were able to surprisingly fit at least 6 designs in the 3d printer bed, each of them had a box size of around 70mmx90mmx90mm. The chosen material was PLA, a Biodegradable plastic made of vegetable’s starch.

Render of the 3D scans

We want to thank every student who got involved and made this fundraising possible, especially Damianos Thoma, Shamaine Armstrong from Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice and Tom Bowden, the Students’ Union Community Officer.