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Do the Mutation: 3D-printed masks speak Italian

collageneCreating a mask based on the contours of a face should not be surprising to anyone; artists have been creating them for thousands of years. But all this has changed with the advent of the computer, the industrial 3D printer, and a few brilliant ideas. The sum of all these elements is Do the Mutation, a laboratory created in October 2012 between Bologna and Modena that has developed generative design software called Collagene.

Behind this idea are designer Filippo Nassetti and architect Alessandro Zomparelli, together with a group of collaborators and partners spread across Italy. To create the Do the Mutation masks, it is necessary to follow some basic steps. First, the model’s face is scanned using a Kinect sensor—originally created for the Xbox 360 console—and the resulting data is captured by the Collagene software.

The next step involves generating the mask on the computer. This is performed directly on the 3D model of the scanned face. The ethereal forms seen in the photo gallery were created by simulating the deposition of fibres on the facial contours. After the software has finished its work, the lines that are designed—or more accurately, woven—onto the face are transformed, ready for the printing stage.

The final step, printing the mask on a 3D printer, begins with a simple click that sends the virtual model data to one of the laser sintering printers produced by the Italian CRP company. Inside the 3D printer, the starting material—a dark glass-fibre and polyamide-based powder—is fused by a laser, layer upon layer.

The finished result is a ‘fossil’ of compacted material that is extracted from the bed of the remaining unused powder. The mask is effectively complete and, obviously, is a perfect fit to the face of the model. Take a look at this video to see Collagene in action and imagine how you could use it to impress at the next carnival.

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