Barack Obama becomes the first U.S. President with a 3D-printed bust

While those visiting the nation’s capital may not actually get the chance to see the President, they can still get pretty close thanks to Smithsonian and 3D printing technology. Now on display at the Smithsonian Castle, a life-size replica of Barack Obama has become the first-ever 3D-printed bust of any U.S. President.


Unlike the inspired bust of Abraham Lincoln, President Obama didn’t have to get all plastered up. Rather, he simply sat down and let 50 custom-built LED lights, eight high-resolution sports cameras and six wide-angle cameras capture his image instantaneously. The flickering of lights created 10 different lighting conditions in just a matter of one second, ensuring that every detail of his face was copied and cloned.

The White House recently released a YouTube video showing the President as he prepared for his historic portrait session.

The files were then transferred to a 3D Systems SLS machine, which for the 1:1 bust, turned melted nylon powder into a highly-accurate and durable print. The life-size sculpture —  which stands at 19-inches tall and weighs right under 13-pounds — took less than two days to create after which the print cooled down for about 24 hours.


“This isn’t an artistic likeness of the President, this is actually millions upon millions of measurements that create a 3D likeness of the President,” Adam Metallo, The Smithsonian’s 3D Digitization Program Officer explained.  “We can now 3D print and make something that’s never been done before.”

The end result, which can be seen in the video above, was displayed at this year’s White House Maker Faire back in June. You can read all about the creation of the Presidential bust here.

1 thought on “Barack Obama becomes the first U.S. President with a 3D-printed bust

  1. Pingback: Rewind: A look back at the top 3D printing stories of 2014 | Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World

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