DIY 3D Body Scanner

This project involved creating an open source 3D scanner, with members from BuildBrighton makerspace, as a contribution to new digital tools for clothes design. Open source scanners already exist but they are beyond the budget of many community groups, such as makerspaces.

3D scanning may not seem the most obvious tool for DIY clothes production, but it was identified as the first step for the mass customisation methods and is a useful step for personalised fabrication. Therefore having a 3D scanner makes other technological innovations such as open source garment visualisation software more likely to happen.

The structure design went through various iterations. The first idea was to repurpose a gazebo because the size was similar to the 3D scanner shown on Richard Garsthagen’s ‘instructable’. We wanted to find the smallest usable diameter, so an arrangement of vertical, PVC plumbing tubes where used to give us flexibility to increase or reduce the area. PVC tubes were great, because there are lots of useful attachments and it led to the idea of cardboard tubes, which were preferable because they are generally made from at least some recycled materials and can also be recycled when they are no longer needed.

Cardboard helps demystify the technology, as it’s a juxtaposition to the sci-fi image of a scanner with lasers. Mistakes can often be easily mended, which saves time and materials at the prototyping stage. For example some of the 3D printed connections warped during the printing process and would normally have been remade, but cardboard tubes can be squashed into shape.

We were donated broken Raspberry Pis in case we could get them to work. I learnt to resolder the components that had fallen off and it was satisfying when that was all that was needed to get them to turn on. We attached extra cameras to them and used them to determine how many Raspberry Pis were needed for different purposes.

I considered writing an abstract submission for the Making Futures conference, before realising that the most appropriate audience would be people who would be interested in making a scanner or using digital technology for clothes making. I chose to share the designs on the website Instructables® because it’s a popular site for makers looking for project ideas.