The Scan the World project is looking for your help.
If you’re not familiar with Scan the World, you should be. A group of volunteers have been collecting 3D scans of notable sculptures and buildings from around the world. They call it an “open source museum”.
These highly detailed 3D scans are published for free download on popular 3D model repository MyMiniFactory. All 3D models have been verified for successful 3D printing, although some may be more complex than others due to the geometry of the subject.
I have no idea how many scans are in the collection at this time, but it must certainly be in the tens of thousands. If there is a famous sculpture in existence, then a search for its name in Scan the World would likely result in a hit.
The project has been around since 2014 beginning with scans obtained from London locations, such as Hyde Park and the famous British Museum, where I have on more than one occasion taken 3D scans.
The typical process for obtaining scans is done using photogrammetry, where a large series of images are taken from a variety of angles. Software then processes the images to produce a usable 3D model, which can then be cleaned up manually for printability. However, some scans are obtained with professional 3D scanning gear.
The core team has continued to collect 3D scans of anything they can visit and take images, but there are also many 3D models provided by members of their community.
Now there is a crowdfunding initiative to provide the means to do even more 3D scanning of similar objects.
Team members Jon Beck and Elisa D’Antona explain:
“We are often asked by the community how we keep ourselves sustainable, and so far every step of our journey has been self funded. After consulting community members we thought it right to mix things up a little, which is why we are introducing our new Crowdfunding initiative. This will not only help Scan The World being sustainable, but also give you the chance to be part of this new adventure.”
They’re hoping to raise money to enable scanning of new subjects not previously accessible, and this likely is for travel expenses to visit sites.
As of this writing, they have raised well over US$5,000, and there are many days left in their campaign.
The campaign has a large number of “Stretch Goals”, which trigger new and unusual 3D scanning activities. They explain:
“For our first five stretch goals, our team will peacefully occupy an Institution and free as many sculptures and cultural artifacts as possible.
The collections that will be scanned are the following ones: Mesopotamia collection with a focus on Assyria, Egyptian collection, Balawat Gates, Mexican heritage with a focus on Mayan artifacts and some bonus interesting cultural artifacts.”
This is exactly what it says: they will literally “invade” a museum and take a zillion images of the artworks present, with a ton of photogrammetry processing to take place later.
If you’ve ever downloaded anything from Scan the World, you might consider a donation to their very worthy project. They’ve provided a number of options to participate, ranging from US$10 and up to accommodate anyone’s budget.