If you want to build an accurate, 3-dimensional model of your face you'd better be prepared to drop around $3000 for a 3D Scanner with special software. And, again, that's just the scanner. If you want to actually print anything in 3D, you'll need to buy a dedicated printer too. Those have two price categories: under $20,000 and above $20,000.
3D printing will be well out of range for the average consumer for years to come. But cheap 3D scanning is already here. Grant Schindler of the Georgia Institute of Technology has invented an app called Trimensional (via GizMag). It uses the camera on your iPhone, iPad 2 or 4th generation iPod Touch to create full 3D models of whatever you want.
To use the app, you'll need to take it into a dark room and hit 'capture'. The app takes four pictures at slightly different angles and then builds one 3D image of the object. You'll be able to rotate the new scanned image and save it as a jpeg, animated GIF or QuickTime movie. You can also export it to a graphics program or a 3D printer. Not a bad deal for under a dollar. Watch the video demo below to see it in action.
This new app makes it pretty clear that the price of 3D scanning is about to take a sharp nosedive. But 3D printing will remain out of reach for some time to come. Until then, this app will be used primarily for entertainment. But it also has the opportunity to be useful in the medical field or for students with access to a university 3D printer. Now instead of waiting turns to use a 3D scanner, users would be able to do the scanning themselves and wirelessly email the images wherever.
Trimensional won't reach its true apex until somebody releases a follow-up app that lets you distort and modify those 3D images into custom works of "art". Who wouldn't want to make accurate 3D models of a buddies head and then twist it into some terrible, bug-eyed horned demon? Someone with the capital to afford a printer could even allow people to order 3D print jobs in-app for a nominal fee. Making bobbleheads would be easier than ever before.