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Petitioning the White House to Open-Source Obama's 3D Portrait

A new petition is asking the government and the Smithsonian Institute to release POTUS' 3D scanned model data to the public.

The Smithsonian Institute sent a team to the White House last year to take a 3D portrait of the President using 50 custom-built LED lights, 8 high res sports photography cameras, and 6 wider angle cameras, as well as handheld structured light 3D scanners. The 3D files were subsequently uploaded to a computer and used to print a thermoplastic bust of our commander in chief. Later on the White House released a video on their YouTube channel documenting the entire process, which took roughly five minutes.


Earlier this week, penned an op-ed asking, "Why is President Obama missing from the world of 3D printing?" A day later,'s Brian Krassenstein penned the petition for the public release of President Obama's 3D model files. According to the 3D printing site and forum, the bust was last seen on display at the National Portrait Gallery on February 4th, President’s Day. It has since then vanished from public view, and the files that would allow anyone with a 3D printer to recreate the same regal bust haven't been released.

3D printing provides an exceptional, simple, and unique way of preserving history from both the past and present. Thus far, it has allowed us to materialize a Van Gogh painting, and revive a long-lost amusement park on Coney Island. In the White House’s YouTube video, Gunter Waibel, a Director at the Smithsonian Digitization Program Office says that a 3D-printed model can provide an “authentic experience that connects us to history, connects to a moment in time, and connects us to a person’s likeness.”

Releasing these 3D model files would give creatives and designers across the world the opportunity to reimagine and reconfigure this monumental bust. Think of the possibilities! Educators could print the face of the President they were teaching about that day. Think of the children! Imagine if you could touch the face of the President you were learning about in your history class.


The Creators Project signed this petition, and we think you should too.

Photo courtesy of Digital Program Office / Smithsonian Institution

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