Mar 27, 2016 | By Alec

As 3D printing has been entering just about every industry imaginable, it should not be so surprising to find it in the funeral industry as well. If one of your loved ones opted for cremation, you might have an urn standing around on your mantelpiece. While they can be stylish, they can also be a bit creepy and not at all personal. 3D printing does offer a solution here, as it can be used to make a custom urn that reminds you of your deceased grandfather, for instance. While that can be stylish, it can also simply be even creepier with 3D printed urns that look just like the deceased. That is essentially what Japanese company Roice Entertainment has started offering: 3D printed urns that enable your grandfather to judge you for all eternity.

Now Roice Entertainment may have a bit of a strange ring to it, but they are actually a specialized photography and 3D printing agency that has been around since 2013. They have been making quite a name for themselves in Japan with their 3D printed figures based on photos of memorable events, such as weddings, graduations and births. They evidently just took this to the logical next step with personalized urns. Interestingly enough, they are not the first company to offer this service. One Minnesota-based startup called Foreverence offers 3D printed urns that look like your father’s favorite car or hat for instance.

While a 3D printed car urn might seem like a safer, more stylish solution, the Japanese photography experts actually mange to achieve a very high level of detail on their product. That’s because they essentially apply the same approach to their urns as they would to a wedding miniature: using multiple high resolution photos from various angles, these are stitched together to create a 3D printable image. The result is subsequently 3D printed at high resolution.

Now of course, we don’t all have multiple high resolution angle shots of grandparents who died a decade ago, so this particular service is possible with just a single photograph. A professional 3D designer will transform the reference image into a high resolution 3D image. This obviously opens the way for a lot more options. In fact, you could even send in an iPhone photo, provided the quality is good enough. “Most important is that the camera is completely stable and in-focus. When the photographer was shaking and the photo is very out-of-focus, it might not be possible to create a quality 3D figure. If you wish to create accurate beautiful 3D figures, it is recommended that you shoot in the single-lens reflex camera,” they say.

A time-consuming process, it can take two to three months to complete the urn, with an opening in the back holding the ashes. After modeling, the urn is sent to a 3D printer and 3D printed in plaster. “They are manufactured on-site using a full-color plaster mold 3D printer. After fabrication, we paint the urn with a special wax,” the Japanese experts explain, adding that it is as vulnerable as other plaster objects. The results, however, look good – if somewhat intimidating.

But of course such a custom service is everything but cheap. The smallest 20 centimeter sized figurine costs 100,000 yen (US $886.50), with the 25 centimeter (150,000 yen) and 30 centimeter (200,000 yen) options being even more expensive. But then again, funerals are expensive and a typical casket will usually cost a lot more than that. The question that remains, however, is if you are willing to look at such an unusual urn for the rest of your life. Maybe just a framed photo would be better.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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