Article Source: Artec 3D

Challenge: To create a scale model of a life-size statue commissioned by the Vatican for raising awareness of human trafficking

Solution: Artec Leo, Artec Studio, bronze casting, Mimaki 3D printers, ZBrush 

Result: The entire statue was scanned over two days and in just three hours. Smaller 65-70cm versions are being 3D printed with every detail intact, one of which will be presented to the Pope. From the original sculpture, ten full-sized statues will be cast in bronze and installed around the world.

They say that all roads lead to Rome. And in one case, a smooth journey from Canada to the Vatican was ensured via the use of 3D scanning. For Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz, it was a matter of converting a monumental sculpture – commissioned by the Vatican to raise awareness on human trafficking – into two productions: to turn one original clay sculpture into 10 bronze statues, in true-to-size recreations that will be installed in cities around the world, and smaller versions that will be 3D-printed and sent to hundreds of locations internationally – with one in particular to be presented to the Pope.

World renowned sculptor Timothy Schmalz presents his highly detailed clay sculpture

“Tim has a workshop here in a small town, a big old giant space full of crazy sculptures everywhere,” says Steve Cory, president of Gold Certified Artec 3D partner Objex Unlimited. “He’s already done several works for the Vatican and for the Pope. You can actually find pictures of him with the previous Pope, and several of his sculptures have been blessed.”

As impressive as Tim’s portfolio is, for the Catholic art specialist, this piece titled “Let the Oppressed Go Free” was different.

“I’ve been sculpting for 30 years,” said Tim, who is also the man behind the famous “Homeless Jesus” statue, which made headlines around the world. “The fascinating thing is that I have spent many a long night working on trying to reproduce my own sculptures.”

With smaller versions of the statue, the art is immediately more accessible – and deliverable – to locations around the world. Thanks to 3D scanning – in this case levelled up Leo with Artec Studio’s HD Mode – the entire 20-foot sculpture was scanned and successfully scaled down for further production complete with details of every figure down to their clothing, accessories, postures, faces, hair, and expressions.

3D printed from high-resolution data from the sizeable statue, with every detail preserved

“It’s very powerful to turn the large statue into a smaller size so that more people can see it,” said Tim, adding that the smaller printed versions also serve to promote the larger pieces. “The detail in this printed statue is unbelievable,” said Tim. “But not only the detail, even the human expression to be seen within this small scan. It’s just absolutely unbelievable.”

The statue is made up of about 100 figures – represented in the statue is everyone from a child bride to a child soldier, young victims of sex trafficking, organ trafficking, sex slaves, and more. “Human trafficking is more than one story,” Tim said. “So this sculpture tells the stories of a hundred different faces.”

This, he said, would not have been possible without 3D scanning – the scaled model as you see it now is as real as possible with no details missing.

“Now I see what this technology brings and it’s just absolutely stunning,” says Tim. “There’s no way a human could create this. I could not have created this smaller version myself, and I’m the actual sculptor of the big piece!”

Before 3D scanning

Tim Schmalz and Objex Unlimited first started working together in around 2015. “Since then, I’ve probably scanned 25 or 30 of his sculptures,” said Steve. For this particular work, it was Artec Leo which was called upon – and with HD Mode.

“Tim does a lot of smaller reproductions of his larger works, which he had historically been sculpting by hand,” Steve explained. “For one of the first sculptures I scanned for him, he said it had taken 150 hours to recreate it on a smaller scale – and he was never happy with it.”

“I’ve scanned his stuff with Leo, with Spider, with Eva, with combinations of all of the above, but in this case, Leo and HD Mode really changed everything,” said Steve, who had his sights set on scanning the statue for almost a year.

Being able to create his huge sculpture with Artec Leo and then scale it down has provided several benefits. The process proceeded in no time at all, and the team themselves were impressed with how smoothly it all went.

Every figure in the sculpture was recreated in full detail

The 20-foot-long sculpture was scanned in three hours over two days, with an additional two hours to upload all the data, and just 10 hours to put it all together, Steve said. All processing was done in Artec Studio, with ZBrush for a few minor touch-ups.

“Even as I was scanning, he’s constantly wetting these models and making sure that they’re not cracking too much,” Steve recalled. “Being able to get through the scanning quickly helps maintain the integrity of the sculpture itself.”

During this period of time, several of the heads on the sculpture had also been removed, and sculpting work had continued. When the heads were replaced, they were in slightly different positions.

“Some features on the sculpture had been modified so I had to rescan them,” Steve said. “This is where Artec Studio was very helpful in that I could edit areas of some scans and then merge them with others – the real key here was the large field of view of Leo, and the automatic alignment to previous scans.”

With onboard processing and a touch-screen display, Artec Leo features an easy scanning process, with all attention focused on the task at hand, and no laptops and wires getting in the way. When paired with HD Mode, Leo is now AI-powered, capturing and processing data in super-high-resolution color 3D in anywhere from 1X-64X scan density, with every edge and corner reconstructed, and with little to no noise. This industry-first technology indeed proved handy for a task as large and detailed as this one.

“For something this huge I expected we’d spend 10 or 15 hours, but in this case it took very little time,” said Steve. “With HD Mode it was just crazy good. I’m so blown away every time, and we don’t do any scans without it. There’s no point, it’s just so much better.”

And the final result did not disappoint.

“It’s stunningly beautiful, it’s absolutely amazing, and what’s really amazing is that we spent two hours on the digital cleanup in this gigantic massive sculpture,” Steve says. “We had to spend hardly any time on it because the Leo data was just really good.”

The final model was close to 100GB of data

Bigger Plans

As the models, printed on Mimaki 3D printers, start to make their way around the world, the large, bronze-cast statues are in the works, too. In a process of recreating clay to bronze that takes six months per piece, the 10 statues are being made in Tim’s studio in China. The first bronze sculpture will be sent to an organization in Washington D.C.

While traditional mold making is still being used, 3D scanning plays no small part in this process either. “If one of the molds is broken or inaccurate,” Steve explained, “it can be rebuilt using the scans.”

This also greatly helps the quality control process: instead of looking at pictures, a highly detailed and accurate reference is digitally available.

Scans also help the installation process: in this case, a Drawing Exchange Format (DXF) file of the statue’s footprint was sent to architects working on one of the installations to assist in planning measurements for installation. “It’s almost impossible to get something close to accurate by measuring physically,” Steve said. 

What’s Next

While the first print of the smaller statue has already made its way to Rome, the presentation of the statue to the Pope has been put on hold indefinitely due to social distancing rules in the Vatican. For now, though, there is still much work remaining to be done for getting this sculpture out as extensively as possible.

“[As an artist] I am completely thankful for this ‘little’ scan that has brought a 20-ft sculpture – which is very hard to move – to a smaller scale,” said Tim, who hopes to spread this message as widely as possible through his art.

“Pope Francis said that human trafficking will always exist, if it’s kept underground,” says Tim. “And this sculpture, and the small replica, brings awareness and it brings it out from under the ground.”

Listen In

As Canada’s only 3D reseller running the Mimaki 3DUJ-553 equipment in-house, Objex Unlimited, is excited for the announcement of the new full-color (colour) Mimaki 3DUJ-2207 UV Inkjet 3D Printer. Extremely thrilled with the quality of parts being produced on our larger format 3DUJ-553, Mimaki’s lineup now comprises of the 3DUJ-2207, and 3DGD-1800 3D printers. Read the full press release below:


  • The new Mimaki 3DUJ-2207 3D Inkjet Printer boasts full-colour high definition production in a sleek, compact design, with over 10 million colours
  • The machine delivers an affordable, scalable solution to drive accessibility to 3D printing and deliver its cutting-edge technologies to a host of new customers

Mimaki Europe, in conjunction with Mimaki USA, a leading manufacturer of inkjet printers and cutting systems, today announces the launch of its new compact, full-colour 3DUJ-2207 UV Inkjet 3D Printer. Previously the first to bring over 10 million colours to the 3D printing market with its larger-scale industrial counterpart, the 3DUJ-553, Mimaki now combines the same impressive colour range and renowned build quality in a compact, affordable solution. With this latest offering, Mimaki aims to extend the reach and accessibility of its cutting-edge 3D printing technologies to an entirely new segment of customers.

The innovative 3D printing solution represents a huge step forward for detailing and post-processing, with the unique combination of its full-colour capabilities and water-soluble support materials enabling super-fine details to be printed in vibrant colour, and then beautifully preserved without the substantial breakage risks usually associated with manual cleaning, painting and finishing. With additional features such as Mimaki’s trademark clear resin, which can be utilized alone or mixed with colours to achieve varying levels of transparency, the new 3DUJ-2207 3D printer presents a robust, advanced 3D printing solution with an affordable price tag – all within a machine sufficiently compact to fit in an office elevator.

“Here at Mimaki, we do not stop at developing disruptive technologies – we make it our business to look even further beyond this, continually striving to find ways in which we can then accelerate the adoption of these technologies and drive the wider industry forward,” comments Danna Drion, Senior Marketing Manager at Mimaki Europe. “Our new 3DUJ-2207 3D Printer is a prime example of this. We had already raised the bar in 3D printing by delivering the world’s first 3D printer with over 10 million colours – but now, with the introduction of our new 3DUJ-2207 3D Printer, we are bringing these 10 million colours to a host of new customers, which in turn means new applications and an even quicker uptake of 3D printing technologies as a whole.”

Set to be commercially available worldwide [Canada] from January 2021, the 3DUJ-2207 has been designed with functionality at its core, with the compact design and reduced 203 x 203 x 76mm build space just two of many key features which demonstrate its unique versatility and make it ideally suited for office environments. The 3D printer’s quiet performance and optional deodoriser minimize some of the primary disruptions usually associated with 3D printing technologies, ensuring maximum workability in busy workspaces.

Utilizing UV-curing inkjet technology, the expansive high-definition colour expression made possible with the Mimaki 3DUJ-2207 3D Printer is around twice that of powder bed manufacturing methods. This provides new possibilities for prototyping and enables the accurate reproduction of subtle colour differences which are critical for many industrial design applications such as medical and architectural modelling. Additional applications include small-scale models for design offices and educational settings, as well as collectible figures.

Drion concludes, “By combining our technological expertise with a wealth of industry experience and market insight, we have been able to create an innovative, inspired solution that merges functionality, affordability and design in a way that really will be game-changing for a lot of creators. This launch will deliver a world of new possibilities to designers and product developers, for many of whom the idea of high-definition full-colour 3D printing might previously have been out of reach, and that is something we are extremely proud of.”

The Mimaki 3DUJ-2207 3D Printer will be exhibited online at Formnext Connect and as part of Mimaki’s latest virtual event, the Mimaki 3D Experience, from 10th November to 16th December.

Watch Now

Learn about the latest and greatest in Artec Studio and the release of their new HD mode and AI-Powered 3D scanning features.

Steve Cory, 3D industry expert and founder of Objex Unlimited will review his experience with this new feature and discuss how it can revitalize your Artec 3D scanning equipment and workflow.

Comparison of Artec Eva, Spider and Eva with New HD Mode

Santa Clara, Calif., October 14, 2020
 – Artec 3D, a world-renowned developer and manufacturer of professional 3D hardware and software, today announces the successful development of a proprietary AI Engine that more than doubles the resolution of its Eva and Leo handheld scanners to 0.2 mm in a newly released HD Mode. Artec 3D is the first and only company to utilize deep convolutional neural networks to reconstruct 3D surfaces and improve the quality of 3D models. With HD Mode, users can create exceptionally accurate, low-noise scans of smaller, more detailed objects with complex surfaces, as well as large, intricate objects. HD Mode is free and available now for all Eva and Leo users via Artec 3D’s latest scanning and data processing software, Artec Studio 15.

“With the help of in-house developed training techniques and CNNs, we’ve managed to squeeze more information from the same amount of data captured from our existing 3D Eva and Leo scanners and get a much richer and denser representation of the scene being scanned,” said Gleb Gusev, CTO of Artec 3D. “Now we’re able to receive up to 64 times more measurements from the same scanners, which more than doubles the resolution of the final model and significantly decreases noise. Another advantage of our new approach is the much more accurate reconstruction of the surfaces this technique provides compared to standard algorithms.”

“We are committed to creating life-long Artec 3D users, not only by developing the industry’s most cutting-edge new 3D technologies, but also ensuring that the performance of our existing solutions is continuously being enhanced,” said Artyom Yukhin, President and CEO of Artec 3D. “The release of HD mode, powered by a first-of-its-kind neural network, is an extraordinary milestone for the 3D scanning industry that our users can benefit from right away. It’s incredibly rare for any company to release such a significant upgrade at no cost, but we want users to rest assured that when they invest in our technology it will continue to pay off for years to come.”

Artec 3D has a deep history in computer vision and AI, creating AI algorithms for its own 3D facial recognition devices, as well as for technology industry leaders. Most notably, Artec 3D’s team of AI experts worked with Apple to help develop its Face ID. Now, Artec 3D has leveraged its expertise to apply AI not only to 3D faces, but to 3D objects of any kind. The convolutional neural network powering Artec 3D’s AI Engine in Studio 15 software has been trained using millions of data points and hundreds of thousands of 3D models to ensure optimum performance in HD Mode.

When an Eva or Leo operator turns on HD Reconstruction, they can look forward to scans with unparalleled degrees of resolution, coverage, and detail. They can also select the desired density for HD scans, from a standard 1X all the way up to an astonishing 36X for Eva and 64X for Leo. To experience the benefits of HD Mode, users must utilize computers with NVIDIA GPUs and 2 GB (Eva) / 4 GB (Leo) of video RAM for proper scanning and data processing. NVIDIA is the Artec 3D recommended graphics card brand for Artec Studio users.

HD Mode allows users to scan more detailed objects in over twice the resolution, with Eva and Leo scanners. This mode easily captures sharp and thin edges in higher definition. Even complex structures with various hard-to-scan surfaces, such as those featuring holes and gaps, varying depths and angles, and recessed areas are now systematically reconstructed in every single frame to deliver the best possible scan. With HD Mode, tricky surfaces, such as those that are deep black, shiny, or covered in hair or fur, are also easier to digitize with incredible detail. HD mode has an elite level of noise reduction in both raw data and final model, making scanned objects ready for reverse engineering, as well as many other applications, without needing any editing.

To learn more about Artec 3D’s HD Mode, or visit