2. Digital bodies#

Mannequin manifesto#

Why mannequins are standard? Why they look so similar? Why clothes are produced in standard sizes with all the technology we have now a days? This week, we’ll be creating our own mannequins, with real measurements. I believe this excercise is an example of how you can customize the size and shape of mannequins as well as garments, with easily scanning real bodies.

Main Idea#

The main idea was to create a hollow mannequin. Here’s a hollow sliced structure I found, that looks pretty much like I want my mannequin to be.

Coming and going with the concept I want to stick to, I decided to keep sustainable parameters, recycling any material I can find as waste, and later on use it to put a growing plant in it. I found an acrylic that was wasted outside the fablab and decided to use it. I cut it in rectangles (1000x600 mm) and measured its thickness (3mm).


Scanning my body was the first step. In order to do it we used Skanect. 3D Scanning (Kinect + Skanet) Kinect is a 3D sensor, with which you can produce 3D scans using open source software Skanect. Here you have a picture of it!

Though in order to have a smooth 3d body, I tried with another software called Make Human. It is a 3D modeling software which allows you to customize your body and as a result you have a smooth mesh to work with. To begin with you custom some general aspects as gender, ethnicity, height, weight, expressions, muscles, curves, etc. Later on I introduced my measurements in cm to have a closer replica of my body.

Neck circum: 32

Neck height: 12

Upper arm circum: 26

Upper arm length: 32

Lower arm lenght: 25,5

Wrist: 14,5

Upper leg height: 55

Upper leg circum: 51

Knee: 36

Lower leg height: 52

Caff: 33


Ankle: 24

Front chest: 34

Bust: 85,5

Underbust: 75

Waist: 66

Nape to waist: 37

Hip to waist: 21

Shoulder distance: 10,5

Hips: 98

In order to cut the parts I want to include in the mannequin I needed to import it to Rhino, another 3d modeling software based in nurbs, so I exported the file in .stl (stereolithography) and .obj (wavefront) formats.


• Take it to real scale, and turned the mesh into a polysurface. Be careful to check before its a watertight mesh with the command ‘SelectShow’ Edges → Naked Edges. If not, use ‘repair mesh’ and then ‘fill holes’ to repair your open mesh.

• Turn your mesh into a polysurface/nurbs model: using ‘meshtonurb’.

• Cut the parts you don’t want with ‘trim’command. Creating shapes as boxes or elipses, and then using the command ‘extrude’ to create the surface or polysurface that will cut your mesh. I cutted both arms, legs and later the ears.

• Make it hollow. I’ve tried to do it on rhino but it was really difficult because of the irregular shapes of the body, so some people adviced me to make it hollow on the next step in Slicer for Fusion software.

• Export the mesh in .stl in order to open it in Slicer for Fusion 360 software.

Slicer for fusion 360#

It is a tool to turn your digital 3D models into appealing artefacts. It slices and converts 3D models into 2D patterns that you can cut out of any flat material. Also you can apply various slicing techniques to your model and create 2d plans in EPS, DXF or PDF formats that you can cut using laser cutter or CNC machine. It also creates 3D instructions to ensamble the slices, to help you build the model.

• Import the mesh in .stl

• Introduce the material size and thickness. In my case it was 1000x600x3 (mm).

• Decide which slicing technique you want to use. I chose to do it with interlock slices, with 14 horizontal slices and 7 vertical slices.

• In order to make it hollow you should choose ‘modify form’, then ‘hollow’. After hollowing it, you can see in the plans everything turns red. That means it’s not possible to assemble it. So I still had to manage to hollow the body mesh, in a way it’s possible to.

It took many days of trying to hollow it in Rhino and then in Slicer, with which it was possible but everything came red, as it was no way of ensambling every slice with its hollowness. So I exported the red plans in pdf and opened them in Rhino, to solve the assembling issues (red pieces in slicer). After many hours on it, and with some help of experienced people in laser cut and Rhino, we make it! It was necessary to open the vertical slices with small cuts, to be able later to assemble the horizontal ones inside of it (though later this cuts should be sealed with acrylic glue to make it firm and strong).

Laser cutting#

Laser cut was amazing! Even the shape that was left of the acrylic panel was nice. The parameters to laser cut it were: speed 0,8, power 100 and 20.000 in PPI/Hz, with 2 passes. To engrave the parts with a letter + number to identify them, the parameters were 100 in speed, 90 in power and 20.000 in PPI/Hz. To do it I used 4 panels of acrylic 1000x600.

Laser cutting acrylic - Digital Bodies from Lara Campos on Vimeo.


To assemble, it was necessary to hang the mannequin from the neck in order to be able to put every piece carefully, because as it is made from acrylic it was very fragile and may break. Also, the Slicer assembling plans can help you as you follow the steps with the engraved number+letter of each piece.

Assembling slices - Digital Bodies from Lara Campos on Vimeo.

The next step was to put some acrylic glue on the edges to make it stronger. In order to do it it was necessary to hang it from the head outdoors, as smelling this type of glue is very toxic.

Now the mannequin is ready, so I’ll put the growing plant inside and just take care of it as enjoying to see it growing!


To let the pant grow on the mannequin I needed to construct a pod. So I recycled some wood from the lab cutting every edge of the box and taking into account the thickness for the earth and the roots. Also I’ve taken a drilled piece of wood to avoid the roots being in contact with the excess of water at the bottom. Paint the box and the drilled wood with watertight paint. In this case I did 3 coatings, letting them dry in between, but it depends on the type of paint.

This was a quick mockup pod, though I’ll prefer to do it with clay. Pour the earth inside, locate the growing plant and talk to it. Not to mention good sun and water conditions!

I needed to do some hooks to tight the mannequin to the earth in case of wind, so I bended some metal bars and cut them with the disk cutter.


You can download the files in Sketchfab