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The Body and Mask in Ancient Theatre Space - home page

The Body and Mask in Ancient Theatre Space - Research Project

Rapid prototyping process - by Martin Blazeby

Rapid prototyping (3D printing) is a method used in the project to create a solid print replica of a digitised 3D mask artefact. The printed mask replica generated by the RP machine forms the basis of a hard shell and is this then used as a highly accurate template for the next phase of the project, the construction of a full-sized decorated wearable mask.

The process of transforming the scanned artefact into a solid form is relatively uncomplicated, however, the purpose of this method is to ensure that the resultant replica mask printout fits as precisely as possible to the proportions of a human head and face. This is vital for the mask maker who uses the rapid prototype as the basis for constructing a wearable mask. The step taken to ensure the 3D artefact fits accordingly is somewhat complicated. The scanned artefact has to be subjected to a 'virtual' scaling procedure, scaling the 3D mask to fit with a generic 3D human head template. The main problem with this process relates to the original source material, many of these masks are miniatures, all vary in size and completeness, and were most certainly never intended to function as full-sized physical masks. The facial features of these mask miniatures when blown-up are sometimes difficult to correlate with features of a human face. Usually a balance of fit is achieved with importance placed mainly on the location of the eyes and mouth, as apposed to the fitting of the head in relation to the width and height of the mask. The 'virtual' scaling process of the 3D mask artefact in preparation for rapid prototyping can therefore be a hit and miss process and can really only result in approximation.

step 1   step 1   step 2   step 2
original data with holes
corrected data
virtual scaling from the front
virtual scaling from the side

step 2   step 3   step 3   step 5
eyes and mouth alignment
mask ready for review
comparison with previous masks
solid RP print replica

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Rapid prototyping machine