Jun 18, 2015 | By Simon

Although we’ve been increasingly hearing about a significant amount of effort towards creating 3D modeled replicas of relics and other objects that are housed in cases in museums around the world with the ultimate goal of being able to share them with 3D printers, we’ve heard very little about similar efforts being done for similar historical artifacts that reside outside of a museum’s doors.  

Yet this is exactly what’s happening in Pompei, Italy as Italian 3D printing company WASP seeks to preserve the artistic and cultural heritage of the area through the use of their 3D printing technologies.   

In collaboration with the Special Superintendence for Cultural Heritage of Pompei, WASP has been actively developing 1:1 replicas of casts of men, women and children who died two thousand years ago - 79 AD - after the eruption of local volcano. Vesuvio.  Because the men, women and children were suffocated by volcanic gasses and covered in ash and debris, their bodies eventually decayed inside the hardening matter.  The resulting air space formed a mold of their bodies and the ash retained an imprint of their bodies.  When excavators discovered this, they filled the air pockets with plaster to preserve the shapes.  The resulting “plaster mummies” are also referred to as the “Pompeii Casts”.  

“(The) casts are among the most sought-after relics from those abroad,” said Massimo Osanna, who is leading the preservation effort.  

“The problem is that they’re too fragile for traveling, which explains the need for the perfectly reproduced 3D printed copies.”

Among those who will be seeing the first of the prints (there will be ten total) for the first time is a group in Canada - however the preservation team is expecting more orders to be placed around the world soon.  

“Pompei is an example of how technology can be useful for cultural heritage,” added Massimo Moretti, who founded WASP in Italy in 2003. Currently, there are two of the company’s Delta 4070 FDM 3D printers working on the site in Pompei to reproduce the casts.

“Until now, (we at) WASP didn’t know how to lend our technology towards cultural preservation efforts.  When the project leaders came to us asking for help, we agreed immediately.  We are a very proud Italian company and are happy to participate and contribute to something that preserves our culture using 3D printing technology” (translated).

As 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies continue to become both cheaper and easier to use the preservation of both private and public historical artifacts will only continue to grow - ultimately saving their histories for generations to come.  



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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