Inside the Collection

Double Darwin: 3D scanning and rapid prototyping robot

Relief 3D printed faces on a wall
Photography by Janson Hews

As a Museum of Science and Design we celebrate human ingenuity and are interested in providing people with the opportunity to explore exciting and emerging technologies. As part of the Ultimo Science Festival, we brought together 3D laser scanning, Robotics and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) for our Face to Face installation. The robot has been used in the Museum to scan visitors’ faces and model them out of Styrofoam.

Porcelain bust of Charles Darwin
Photography by Sotha Bourn

However, we couldn’t resist scanning one of our collection objects and picked this porcelain bust of Charles Darwin for the experiment. Afterall, two Darwins are bound to be better than one!

Porcelain bust of Charles Darwin being scanned
Photography by Janson Hews

Darwin was scanned using FastSCAN, a lightweight laser scanner. The process is similar to spray painting and is done by sweeping the hand-held laser over a 3D surface. A fan of laser light is projected onto the object’s surface while a camera, also attached to the scanner, works out the cross-sectional depth to form a 3D model. The 3D model is then imported into a CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) package that generates the tool paths that the robot uses to machine the model.

The MR20 Series Robot then machines Darwin out of Styrofoam.

Robot machined model of the bust of Charles Darwin
Photography by Janson Hews
Robot machined model of the bust of Charles Darwin
Photography by Janson Hews
Robot machined model of the bust of Charles Darwin
Photography by Janson Hews
Robot machined model displayed next to the bust of Charles Darwin
Photography by Janson Hews

Double Darwin will be on display all this week. Any suggestions for what we do with the Darwin doppelganger after that?

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