3pointd and others have been reporting in the recent past about experiments and potential services of getting your avatar (or any 3D object in Second Life) being printed as a RL sculpture. The first one was Eyebeam OpenLabs, who create OGLE, short for OpenGL extractor. It is a public domain tool for extracting OpenGL information (which is the format of the data in which Second Life talks to your graphics card) from games like World of Warcraft and Second Life. Eyebeam (a non-profit arts and technology center based in New York City) is using it themselves to create little statues from objects in WoW, SL or Google Earth (not sure if they actually offer a service where everybody can order e.g. his or her avatar).
Then there is Recursive Instruments (a neighbour of mine actually on my Theta plot) who are using OGLE, too and create avatars via milling them into foam, wax or even steel (although that’s quite expensive). According to this 3pointd post they wanted to offer services from June 1 on but I don’t see any shop or order page yet (but someone might correct me on this).
And now Hal9k Andalso, known as the creator of the Second411 Search HUD, joins that business with Fabjectory. He is right now setting up a shop over at Theta and was explaining to me what he has in mind and where the difference to the other services are (if they should come or are into existance that is).
So first off he’s working with plastic. It is modeled in thin layers, of 4000th of an inch. And this technique allows also to directly add textures to the avatar via these layers (which is not possible with milling). According to him you get a great detailed work (see the gallery on his webpage) which you otherwise wouldn’t get (like by handpainting). He also says that hollow object should be no problem but that textures with alpha might be. Thus it’s best to bake tints etc. into the texture and apply it as textures come out great.
Another problem with this technique is detailed parts like torus hair (but that’s probably true for any of the ways of creating RL objects in that size) so people might need to adjust their avatar before printing it.
Pricing depends on size and how much material is used and for an avatar of about 4-5 inches height you might have to pay about US$ 75. This covers right now the costs for machine etc. but he plans to get these prices down when more demand arises.
Now with this in place I wonder again whether people will use this. $75 is a bit of money and I guess you really would want your avatar in RL form to do that. But when you spend that much time on customizing your avatar you might want to do that for maybe having some sort of real world backup. Moreover it might be interesting for people doing prototyping in SL who might want to be able to have a real world model. And it’s also bleeding edge technology and as Hal9k says, it’s the experimental start of something which might lead to replicators like explained in several SciFi novels. For now though it’s a service which is there to use. Just contact Hal9k Andalso in-world or visit his website. I will check back someday to see how good that business runs.