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Mini-me: Firm prints 3D figurines of customers

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Mini-me: Firm prints 3D figurines of customers
Photo: Twinkind
11:48 CEST+02:00
It is a like scene from The Borrowers. A Hamburg start-up is taking mankind's fascination with itself to a new level by using a 3D printer to make mini-me versions of their customers.

Twinkind has only been up and running a few months but has already made little figures of customers from across the globe. Turning up at the hanseatic HQ, people spend hundreds of euros on having themselves photographed from 100 different angles and printed out as a mini figurine.

“Within two weeks, by chance, the whole thing went viral,” founder Timo Schaedel told the German version of the Wall Street Journal. Blogs began picking up on Twinkind, and soon the company was putting customers on a waiting list.

Despite the models, which can fit in a person's hand, not being cheap – they cost between €225 and €1,290 – Twinkind hopes to open up shops in more locations. Next on the list is central Berlin which should, Schaedel hopes, be the “most exciting corner” for his product and will be up and running by mid-October at the latest.

“London is also a possible aim,” company employee Kristina Neurohr told The Local.

CLICK here for photos of some of the figures

So far, some of the more memorable figurines have been a pregnant woman who raced in on her due date to be immortalized in plastic, said Neurohr. Another man came from Finland to have models of himself made up, which he sent as birthday party invitations.

While 40 percent of customers request print-outs of themselves, the finely tuned nature of the machinery means that those being photographed do not have to stand still. This means making a model of a wriggly pet, or small child, is also possible.

A man was due to arrive with his chicken to have a model made, Neurohr said. She added that Twinkind “was thrilled about the creativity of its customers and all their great ideas.”

Schaedel explained that most people who wanted figures of themselves made to give as a present. One man gave a model of himself, arm outstretched holding a bunch of flowers, to his girlfriend. Couples seem to have taken to the idea as well, with a newly engaged or married pairs celebrating the event with a model of them both.

A number of people have also got in touch requesting models of their car or motorbike, but as Schaedel explained, the technology does not stretch this far yet. Props, however, are welcome, and lots of people have been snapped with bags, footballs, rucksacks or skateboards.

For Schaedel, the venture is moving photography into a “new medium” and interest in the technology is huge. But Twinkind's method of printing is a little different from common 3D printers which produce plastic items. The mini-me's are made by a powder being sprayed in layers a tenth of a millimetre thick set with a binding substance.

The end product is “rather robust but not completely so, so it's definitely not a toy,” Schaedel told the WSJ.

As the company grows, it is likely that they will approach venture capitalists to invest. Initially, Twinkind was launched on the bank of private cash.

As of yet, walk-in booths in which a person can pop in, get photographed and leave with a perfect figurine of themselves are a way off, Neurohr told The Local, as the process takes several hours. “But who knows what the future holds," he added.

The Local/jcw

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