Fancy owning your own torso made from polystyrene? Tools by Hollie can help

She might run her business from a giant room at the Canberra Institute of Technology in Reid but Hollie Bell has her sights set on Hollywood.

Not in an aspiring actress kind of way - more a "we need you to send us Rebel Wilson's torso immediately" kind of way.

Entrepreneur Hollie Bell with her CNC machine and one of her torsos.

Photo: karleen minney

Serial entrepreneur Hollie is now the proud owner of a Frogmill four-axis computer numerical control (CNC) milling machine, allowing her to mill objects made from plastic, resin, foam, polycarbonate and wood. The process of milling starts with a giant block of material, with a giant blade carving away layers until the desired object is created.

It's the opposite of 3D printing, which is an additive process adding layers of material to create a final shape.

The CNC machine in action, carving a size 18 body from a block of foam.

Photo: karleen minney

While the CNC machine is big enough to carve out a dining table, Hollie's focus is on making life-size human torsos out of polystyrene.

Her dream is to have the size 16 body of Rebel Wilson on file, and possibly even the uber famous torso of Hugh Jackman, and to supply Hollywood costume departments with foam bodies for fittings.

"Instead of flying actors all over the world, they could have access to a life-size foam body of the actor 24/7," she said.

Hollie uses a hand-held 3D scanner to scan an underwear-clad body, then feeds the 3D image into software driving the CNC machine. The result is a piece of foam that captures every detail from the top of the thighs right up to the neck.

The idea was born when Hollie - herself a dressmaker - realised the dummy she was using to fit her tops and dresses didn't correctly capture the nuances of her body.

She spent $50 on a Facebook advertisement targeted at dressmakers to see if any were interested in buying a dummy that matched their bodies perfectly. It was a resounding yes.

"People's experience with store-bought dummies was that they're just not like real bodies - so you can get your right dimensions but it doesn't correctly capture things like posture," Hollie said.

"I had that problem too - I would have been better off buying a boy's dummy and putting a little bra on it rather than getting a female dummy because I don't have any curves. I'm straight up and down.

"So I got a test dummy made of my own body and then made my clothes from it and it fitted 100 per cent perfectly."

So far more than 20 dressmakers have purchased personalised dummies and orders are coming in from across the world.

The dummies, which fall under the Tools by Hollie brand, are the latest venture for Hollie, who also invented balcony safety device Anti Grabbity and online mortgage calculator Bizztools.

Hollie's CNC machine is located at CIT Reid, in a collaboration that has CIT providing space for the machine in return for access to the machine, valued at $180,000, for carpentry students.

Hollie described Canberra as the best place in the world for innovation.

"I love it - it's an amazing feeling when you go to all these meetings you just feel really inspired by people who want to do it and actually can do it," she said.

"So it's not, 'Oh, I've got an idea' it's literally, 'I'm doing this'. People are really enthusiastic and supportive and helpful and I couldn't be in a better city."

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