It may seem that the things invented or developed by Disney Research aren’t in any way related to what The Walt Disney Company does, by eventually, the concepts are seen either at Disneyworld or in the movies produced by this corporation.
This will also probably be the case with 3D printed stylized hair, the latest feat of Disney’s research labs. The deed is even more spectacular as until now it was believed that reproducing human hair through 3D printing was impossible. Mind you, Disney Research’s approach may not be perfect, as they haven’t managed to 3D print individual strands of hair. Instead, they proceeded to getting an accurate impression of a person’s hairstyle by fitting it on bust.
The result will make its way to souvenir shops from around The Magic Kingdom, as the masterminds at Disney Research claimed that the 3D printed hair will be used on figurines. More than that, facial hair will also be easy to reproduce using this method. I know that it’s not from a Disney movie, but I’d love to see Community’s Star-Burns as a figurine.
The paper detailing how 3D printing was used to achieve this will be presented at ACM Conference on Computer Graphics & Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH) 2014. Dr. Derek Bradley, associate research scientist at Disney Research Zurich, one of the participants at this project, explained that “Almost as much as the face, a person’s hairstyle is a defining characteristic of an individual. The resulting figurine loses a degree of realism when the individual’s hairstyle isn’t adequately captured.”
Along with Bradley, other scientists that were part of the team include Jose Ignacio Echevarria and Diego Gutierrez from Universidad de Zaragoza, as well as Thabo Beeler (DR Zürich).
Disney Research admits that 3D printing human (or animal, as there are plenty of animals in Disney flicks) hair fiber by fiber is impossible using current 3D printers. I’m pretty sure that in the not-so-distant future, we’ll have the technology for that as well. The advancements in bio-printing will enable people to 3D print wigs, and maybe even get rid of baldness, in the process. We just have to be patient, as there are plenty of brilliant minds willing to make the world better, one 3D printed object at a time.
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