When push comes to shove, a shrunken head makes an excellent Christmas present.
What has potential to be perhaps the world’s most personalized paperweight was on full display at Schlow Centre Region Library on Friday.
In honor of Schlow’s second annual Maker Week, representatives from The UPS Store on Colonnade Way in State College were providing patrons with a very up close and personal look at the scanning process behind 3-D printing.
Manager Victor DeDonato shuffled deliberately around a blond-haired boy in a “Flash” T-shirt. The kid had been given strict instructions not to move a muscle, and he was doing his best to oblige.
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We hope that people learn and get to express themselves and see what’s possible.
Amy Madison, adult services librarian at Schlow Centre Region Library
DeDonato was holding an iPad with a portable scanner attached — the “play it at home version” of a large-scale model he said could rival the price of a compact car.
“It’s a multi-billion dollar industry,” DeDonato said.
The portable scanner worked by way of an infrared camera and a laser for measuring the distance to the subject, whose prepubescent mug was in the process of being rendered into a digital composite on a nearby laptop.
This was the first step in what appears to be, at least on the surface, a very simple process.
Later, the boy would be able to go to The UPS Store and retrieve a custom printed bust — because who among us has not dreamed of seeing their likeness distilled into one cubic inch of plastic?
“We’re trying to push the technology,” DeDonato said.
That is, after all, the point of Maker Week, which celebrates the intersection of technology and creativity and all of the possibilities that implies.
A similar 3-D printing demonstration was held at the library last year, attracting about 40 people eager to see what the gizmo could do.
“We hope that people learn and get to express themselves and see what’s possible,” said Amy Madison, an adult services librarian at Schlow.
Visitors were also given the option of designing bracelets, key chains and cookie cutters to print — small trinkets that could be considered harbingers of bigger things to come.
Alan Claver, a technology support assistant at Schlow, said that 3-D printing technology is still in its infancy but possibilities abound.
“Hopefully in 10 to 15 years, people will be able to just print something out that they need at home,” Claver said.