Speaking about digital bodies awake my curiosity on the alternative methods to create your own mannequins before technology. After a little research I found an easy DIY example that may have worked well for personalised mannequins before digital scan and modeling was possible. It would be interesting to try to see how it works.

You just need the following materials and some patience:

-Pillow filling for stuffing out your form

-A metal base

-2-3 rolls of duct tape

-A piece of cardboard

-An old hip-length T-shirt

-A food foil (for the neck)

For more detailed information you can go to Handimania

How to get a digital body#

Now let’s get a little technologic and talk about the two easiest ways to get a digital body: modeling it in a 3D program or making a 3D digital scan.

To model it, you can use several programs. In this case we recommend MakeHuman which is free and very easy to use. To create your own Digital Body you have two options; either you can play with the automatic options as shown in the next video:

If you are searching for something more precise you can also introduce the mesurements and the program itself tells you how to take them.

If you have problems with the meshes you can follow this Mesh Check and Repair Tutorial

After you create your amazing 3D human body you can save it in Files>Export as an .obj so you can open and modify it Rhino 3D modeling program.

Scanning a body could be very fun but you will need someone to help you scanning and being very patient and careful. You will need to have an Xbox Kinect and your computer with Skannect or a similar program already installed. Then you can sloooowly dance around the person or thing you want to scan, as you can see in the next video:

And the result will look something close to this:

Here you can find a very complete tutorial for 3D Scanning.

Either if you make your digital body in Make Human or you scanned it, the most common is to have some mistakes in the construction, if not, congrats! You are a master! But if you are a common human as I am, you will probably need to repair your model, to do this we used Rhino.

Because of the quality and resolution, I decided to use the model I made in Make Human to create my own mannequin.

I looked for inspiration and material possibilities all around.

I wanted to recycle material and thought it would be super fun to make a mannequin out of X-ray, though the radiography material is not good for cutting in the laser machine and wasn´t rigid enough. I also thought about using old acetate discs but I had the same problem with the size and laser machine.

To make it easier for everybody here is a very practical chart where you can find which materials are not able to laser cut and why. So sorry for limiting your inspiration but that´s the way it is :(

Here is more information about laser cutting and materials:

Never Cut this Materials

Materials for laser cutting

While I was thinking and looking around for materials, time was running so at the end I decided to keep it simple and use the already proven cardboard and made my design fit into the sheet size. Therefore, I cut my human body into rhino with my boolean and its´ different functions (yes! a lot of splits and unions) and here is the result:

And here is where the magical Slicer apears to transform from 3D into 2D for then cutting it out in pieces and construct it back to a real 3D mannequin.

Depending on the material, you will need to set-up different settings, click here to see the Recomended Settings

The recomended values for Vetor Cutting in Cardboard are: Power 25% PPI 250 Speed 4% Resulting Depth .125

As you can see in the image above, the slicer sugested to use 7 cardboards but afterwards, you need to work the file in rhino to join the lines and this also alows you to re distribute the pieces in order to save material.

I made them fit into 3 cardboards sized 1000mm X 600 mm x 2mm.


The mannequin was twisted and the grid was dense which made it difficult to assemble as I added pieces. After assembling more than half, I realized the hole made for assembling was very thin so I needed to cut it manual with scissors for being able to finish the ensemble.


Body Scan Files