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Great geek holiday gift idea: Sculpteo 3D printing

Here at TUAW, we're starting to rev up the holiday gift ideas. And while this gift idea isn't completely Apple-related, you can certainly think up some cool things to make for your Mac, iPhone, and iPad-loving buddies.

Sculpteo.com provides a 3D printing service that can take 3D design files and turn them into physical objects. The company accepts many different formats; for Mac users, you'll probably want to use the free Google Sketchup application to create your design. There's also a set of online tools for making more simple shapes.

So, what can you make with this wonderful 3D printing technology? Anything! Want to make a mockup of your idea for the iPhone 5? Send Sculpteo your design and it'll be printed in either plastic or a ceramic-like material. How about a miniature Newton MessagePad 2100 keychain? No problem. Perhaps a bust of Steve Jobs to grace your desk? That's a possibility. And then there's my personal favorite; the customized avatars.

Yes, that's Mini-me standing there on that desk at right, complete with my traditional baseball cap and TUAW T-shirt. The company takes two head shots (direct and profile) and creates a frighteningly accurate miniature of you or your friend. Provide Sculpteo with a logo or other details, and you can customize these things all you want. The price is about $75 for a 7 cm. (2.8 inch) tall figure and $130 for a 10 cm. (3.9 inch) figure, but Sculpteo is currently offering a 50% discount through November 30, 2010 to introduce this service to the USA. That's perfect timing for Christmas gifts!

TidBITS editor Adam Engst may have his own action figure, but now I have my own personal TUAW Steve avatar to go into battle with him. Boo-yah!

The avatars and other items are printed with a Z Corporation ZPrinter 650 3D printer, which I'm sure would be a nice, albeit pricey, gift for your favorite TUAW bloggers. We'll be bringing you many other gift ideas over the next month, so please keep your browser pointed to TUAW and we'll help you spend your money.

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