3D Printing Martin Luther King, Jr.


Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a school holiday in the US. I decided to 3D print a likeness of Dr. King to honor the legacy of the civil rights activist. I had recently 3D printed a life mask of Abraham Lincoln from a file published by the Smithsonian. http://3d.si.edu/tour/looking-clark-mills-life-mask-abraham-lincoln It made sense that I would do the same for Dr. King. A quick search of Thingiverse.com revealed 0 relevant hits. Searches for a selection of other historic figures also gave 0 hits. A search for Yoda gave 66 results.

I broadened my search using both Martin Luther King, Jr. and MLK as keywords and eventually found a model on the Autodesk 123D site by Discovery Outreach. http://www.123dapp.com/smb-123D_Design/MLK-PlatformBust/2034040 It a simplified model that prints nicely with support. A second model by Autodesk Premium appears to be a remix.  http://www.123dapp.com/123C-3D-Model/Martin-Luther-King-Jr-/1192157


A further search revealed a 3D capture of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington D.C.  by Abraham Kabakoff.  http://www.123dapp.com/obj-Catch/Capture-Name/1321053 The scan was done in 123D Catch using photos but the size of the memorial make it impossible for a photographer on the ground to scan the entire memorial. For resources on capturing 3D images visit  https://designmaketeach.com/2013/12/07/photogrammetry-capturing-3d-images-vste-2013/

Scan MLK Memorial

Next, I searched the Trimble 3D Warehouse and found a model of the MLK memorial by Peter Olsen. https://3dwarehouse.sketchup.com/model.html?id=814f42baa1a7bdaf1f2b60986ab4327c I opened the model in SketchUp and exported a 3D printable stl file. The 3D model lacks detail because the original model relies on 2D images wrapped around a simplified 3D shape to give a realistic appearance.

MLK Memorial SketchupMLK 3D VisualizationIMG_3432

While researching the MLK memorial, I found that Direct Dimensions, a 3D solutions provider, had scanned an original 4′ model of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial for a commercial. http://directdimensions.blogspot.com/2012/01/3d-scan-ofmlk-memorial-helps-create.html I have contacted Direct Dimension via Twitter @dirdim and they are seeking permission to make the high quality 3D scan available to the public. The detail on the scan is amazing. Every public memorial should have a 3D model available in the public domain.

There is enormous potential for students to create compelling content in every subject. My search for a 3D printable model of Dr. King demonstrates the opportunities for students to capture, create and document history and historical figures. Statues, life masks and memorials were the original 3D objects of their day.

Update: March 8, 2016
A detailed scan of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is available at http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:282337