Prosthetics. Livers. Mount Rushmore.
These are a few of the things that have been scanned in three dimensions and either recreated, or at least can be, through three-dimensional printing.
That's what T.J. McCue will be looking for as he drives around North America on a seven-month road trip to meet with those involved in the growing design movement that begins with a photograph and ends with a replica of the image — all in the absence of manual labor.
"It's all about meeting the guys who are making the stuff you see," McCue said.
San Rafael-based Autodesk gave McCue, a digital strategist and technology writer from Seattle, and his family a send off Friday at the design software company's headquarters in San Rafael.
3DRV, to tour around the Bay Area for a few days, before heading toward the Pacific Northwest on Wednesday for the first leg of the trip.
McCue, who writes for Forbes magazine, will visit architects, manufacturers, schools and other institutions that use 3-D imaging. He said he has about 90 or 100 official visits scheduled, but probably just as many informal meetings pencilled in.
The last scheduled stop is Dec. 10, back in California at the headquarters of sunglass maker Oakley in Foothill Ranch.
Along the way, McCue will give demonstrations to 3-D design novices on how the various tools of 3-D production work. While Autodesk is the software company, Faro makes the 3-D scanner and Stratasys manufactures the 3-D printer McCue is bringing on the trip.
Before the RV got rolling, it served as a model for some of the technology McCue will be discussing — and using — on the road. Colin Guinn of 3D Robotics flew a drone around the RV. A GoPro camera mounted on the front of the drone took images of the 30-foot-long bus from all angles. Those images were to be "stitched" together using Autodesk's software program, ReCap Photo, to create a 3-D model that could then be printed, in 3-D.
"We feel there is a major shift in the design-and-making world," said Robert Shear, an Autodesk senior director of reality solutions. "It's just about getting the word out that the technology is here, it's usable, and it's fun."
Similar to how consumer access to high-quality video equipment has broadened the range of people who can be filmmakers, 3-D imaging software has moved advanced computer designing from being just for engineers and architects "to being able to be done by everybody," Shear said.
McCue said the trip will include many stops at national parks, including Mount Rushmore, which has been scanned by Oakland-based CyArk, for historic preservation purposes.
McCue won't be the only journalist on the trip. His son, Joshua, will be keeping a blog about the journey.
"I'm going to blog about what's happening," Joshua said. "The cool stuff we did, from a kid's perspective."