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We’ve all seen those amazing police sketch artists who transform vague witness accounts into highly realistic portraits, often featured in “WANTED” posters. More recently artists have used manual techniques to create lifelike head and face models by applying clay “muscles” and “skin” to casts of skulls.

Today we see the same function accomplished with 3D printing technology: Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology have created realistic busts of long-dead children. Using previously made 3D information obtained with a special haptic interface, IST senior project associate Wade Shumaker printed the busts on a Z Corp 450 in record time.

The “magic moment” occurred when Shumaker pulled the busts from the Z Corp’s dusty build chamber, gazing upon the faces for the first time.

As is done with 2D photographs today, the new 3D technology will enable a variety of uses for face models including identification of unknowns, simulated aging, etc. Once again 3D technology opens up a new niche industry.


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