3D figure printing comes to Annapolis for Plebe Parents Weekend

Midshipman 4th Class Graham Brothers greets his mother during liberty call, which signifies the end of Plebe Summer at the U.S. Naval Academy on Aug. 11, 2017. Plebe Summer, which begins with Induction Day, is a fast-paced, boot camp-style orientation that starts the four years of preparing midshipmen to become commissioned naval officers.


By DANIELLE OHL | The Capital, Annapolis, Md. | Published: August 10, 2018

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Tribune News Service) — Jack Thornton counts down from five and brilliant lights flash, illuminating the walls of the round, tent-like space.

Ninety cameras capture every angle of the person standing in the center — the first step to creating a life-like figurine of anyone willing to stay still and hold a smile.

Lara Thornton and her children, Jack and Ella, have temporarily set up GoFigure — a 3D printing business specializing in mini replicas of customers — in downtown Annapolis.

The pop-up is in time for Plebe Parents Weekend at the U.S. Naval Academy, where family and friends from across the country visit their new midshipmen for the first time in weeks.


Thornton comes from a military family — her father, Frank Jaklitsch, served in the Army during the Vietnam War and her father-in-law, Alan Thornton, graduated from the Naval Academy in 1967. He served more than five years in the submarine community.

When she was looking for a new market for her keepsake business, she thought of the midshipmen and their families.

“It’s such an honor to go to the Naval Academy and I really thought the parents would enjoy capturing their child in the uniform and having that keepsake to look back on,” Thornton said.

Her pop-up shop, at the intersection of Cornhill and Fleet Streets, is lined with three-inch replicas of cheerleaders, bodybuilders and horse-back riders. She’s reproduced everyone from her family to figure skaters to football players.

The small space, which GoFigure will occupy until Sunday, houses the machine that makes the magic happen.

Here’s how it works:

Stand inside. Strike a pose. Stay still, or it won’t work.

Listen for Jack Thornton’s countdown. Smile and brace for the flash of bright light.

Jack has been his mother’s tech-minded partner since they started the business last year after encountering the technology on a vacation in Key West. He reviews the photos after each take and makes sure the software is working properly.

Thornton outsources the 3D printing to another company, which produces the sandstone figures layer by layer and prints in color. A 3D artist — yes, that’s a thing — touches up the figurine to ensure it looks realistic as possible.

In her pop-up shop Thursday, Lara Thornton makes sure two girls, one balancing with the other on piggy-back, are OK inside the dark tent.

“These look pretty good,” Jack Thornton says, reviewing the photos.

“Well, let’s do it again,” Lara says. “We want good, not pretty good.”

The eventual figures of the two girls will reflect every detail of their human counterparts, down to facial features and the pattern on their clothing.

From the shelves, one midshipman figurine stands in a frozen salute, an example of what parents reunited with their children for the first time since June can take back with them.

Thornton said she wishes she could have one of her father and her father-in-law, both deceased.

“It’s such a joyous time,” Thornton said. “It’s a great way to honor them.”

GoFigure is offering a 15 percent discount to customers during Plebe Parents’ weekend. The figures vary in price but start at $85. For more information, visit gofigure3d.us.

©2018 The Capital (Annapolis, Md.)
Visit The Capital (Annapolis, Md.) at www.hometownannapolis.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

from around the web