A new venture hopes to provide a means of 3D printing fine artwork in ways that visually impaired individuals can appreciate.
Let’s face it: visiting an art gallery might not be as effective if you cannot see the artwork. Many works are essentially 2D representations (paintings, photographs or fabric-based works) that cannot easily be explored without vision. In many cases there isn’t even audio information available for artwork, and when it is available, it often refers to visual elements that cannot be seen by the blind. Is there a way for 3D printing to overcome this barrier?
Apparently so, according to 3DPhotoWorks, a new venture that hopes to 3D print 2D artwork in 3D form to enable interaction with the 285 million blind people worldwide. The company has patented a “3D Tactile Fine Art Printing Process” that can take a standard 2D image and convert it into a 3D model. Essentially, they are detecting shapes and raising them up into a touchable form. Those without sight are then able to explore the work by feel.
We’ve seen this style of 2D to 3D image conversion before, but it appears that 3DPhotoWorks’ process produces quite good results. Their process seems to have a lot more smarts than services that simply use gray levels to determine Z-heights. Take a look at the Mona Lisa at top, for example; Wouldn’t you want to get your fingers on it, too?
3DPhotoWorks has launched a crowdfunding initiative to gather funds to “expand their production capability”. The campaign offers a wide variety of pledge amounts, ranging up to USD$10,000, with many different rewards. While the rewards are mostly combinations of their 3D works that you may find interesting, you’re really contributing to a worthy cause.
This use of 3D printing may not be the most financially attractive, but the cause behind it is certainly most worthy.