3D Printing Lets Blind People “See” Paintings

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With the help of computer software and 3D printing, a company called3DPhotoworksis hopingto open-up a whole new world of painting and photography to blind people.

Their process involves scanning 2D paintings and converting theminto digital data.Using computer software,digital conversion specialists “manually” include information thatcan account for the sense of depth in the images. This information is then given to a 3D printer, which creates a 3D print of the painting, complete with contours and texture. This printing process allows up to 4.5 centimeters (1.75 inches) of relief depth.

So far, the technique has been used to produce three-dimensional versions of some of the fine-art world’s most lionizedmasterpieces, such asda Vincis “Mona Lisa,”Emanuel Leutze’s “Washington Crossing the Delaware” and Van Goghs “Dr. Gachet.” However, this is just the beginning they also want to move into the realm of photography as well.

Atechnician working on the Mona Lisatemplate. 3DPhotoWorks

3DPhotowork’s founder, John Olson, along with two of their 3D-printedpaintings. 3DPhotoworks

John Olson created the company eight years ago.Speaking to IFLScience, the photojournalist-turned-engineerexplained what inspired him to start this ambitious project: “Photography took meeverywhere and allowed me to live a very comfortable life.Toward the end of my second career in engineering,I realized how incredibly important images had been to me.”

He added:”I started to wonder what my life would have been like without them andwhat life was like forthe blind without images. That prompted me to sit down oneweekend, eight years ago, to develop a printing process that allowed blind people to see.”

The company started aKickstarter campaignlast yearto get the pennies rolling and scale-up their operation.Although it failed to reach its hefty $500,000goal, the project is upandrunning and already boasting exhibitions in North America.

In February 2016, they are booked foran exhibition at The Canadian Museum for Human Rights. This show hopes to create 3D sculptures out of photographs taken by 13different blind photographers, all with varying degrees of vision loss.

Upclose comparision of “Dr. Gachet” by Vincent Van Gogh and the 3D print. 3DPhotoWorks

Romeo Edmead, a writer, has been blind since he was two years old. However, at a New York library he got to explain his experience with this whole new world.

“All my life we’ve all heard of famous painters and their works. But to me, that’s all they were,” Edmead told Reuters. “They were like vocabulary words I could write down on the page but I didn’t necessarily know how to put a physical picture together.

“Something like this presents that opportunity, that freedom to get a better understanding. It’s one thing to have something described to you. But if you never could see before and have no memory of seeing like me it’s a whole different ball of wax when you actually get to touch it.”

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Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/technology/3d-printing-brings-paintings-and-photography-blind-people

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