For the last several years couples have been able to view their as-yet-unborn child via sonograms and other imaging techniques. Now, thanks to 3D printing advancements, expectant couples will be able to not only view an image of the unborn child, but can actually possess a lifelike model of the 24-32 -week old fetus.
The husband-and-wife entrepreneurs Gerard and Katie Bessette established the start-up company 3D Babies to provide expectant couples the technological means to possess and hold a physical representation of their baby before he or she is even born.
Their company uses 3D printing technology to produce three-dimensional replicas of gestating fetuses. Parents only have to submit to the company a few 3D and 4D ultrasound scans of their 24-week or older fetus. The company creates or "prints" a computerized digital model of the fetus, accurately capturing even the facial features as-yet-unborn baby.
The parents-in-waiting pay between $200 to $800 based on the size of the lifelike replica. A 2-inch model costs $200, a 4-inch sculpture goes for $400, and a full 8-inch figurine costs $800.
Customers can choose the figurine's skin tone, such as dark, medium, or light, and can also select the position of the model, in a fetal position or with arms or legs raised.
3D Babies could set off a new cultural phenomenon in which parents 3D print the entire human life cycle, cradle to, well, who knows when. It is certainly not implausible to imagine that parents will want to document the growth of their children during their "wonder years" with 3D full-body or head-shot physical models of their children as they develop and mature. This could provide parents the hitherto technologically impossible ability to realistically chronicle the physical changes and development of their offspring down to the most minute detail. 3D printing technology is extraordinarily accurate.
Only time will tell whether the public desires such realistic representations of their children, whether before and after birth, and ultimately themselves.