Mar 31, 2016 | By Tess

If you’re not yet convinced that 3D printing technologies will impact and disrupt a large number of industries and fields, perhaps this latest direction in 3D printing technologies will convince you, as funeral homes and services have begun to incorporate the technology into their practices. Just days ago, for instance, we wrote about how one Japanese company, Roice Entertainment, has been 3D printing urns that are based on real-life photographs of your deceased loved one. And now, believe it or not, a Chinese funeral home has even been using 3D printing technology to additively manufacture missing body parts for corpses.

The Longhua funeral home in Shanghai is reportedly the first funeral service in China to integrate state of the art 3D printing technologies into their practices, using the technology to either partially of fully repair dead bodies. Traditionally, materials such as wax are used to recreate body parts for corpses, though the process of molding the wax is time consuming and the end result is often not very accurate.

With 3D printing technologies, the funeral home has been able to recreate accurate and life-like body parts using 3D scanning to measure and recover the damaged part. According to the funeral home, the technology is even able to reconstruct a 3D model of a person’s face from a regular 2D image of it. With the 3D model completed, the 3D printer gets to work, manufacturing body parts from a white resin material.

Shanghai Funeral Service Center Manager, Liu Fengming, explains that a photosensitive silicone material would be the best bet for manufacturing body parts, as its thickness of only 1.2mm, and its soft elastic texture most closely resemble human skin. The cost of using the photosensitive silicone, however, has pushed the funeral home towards using a slightly cheaper alternative, which itself has fine results.

To reach the final, funeral ready result, the undertakers have combined the 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies with some of their traditional practices, like implanting hair, and adding makeup and other surface modifications to the body. After all is done, the funeral home says it can reach an appearance accuracy rate upwards of 95%.

According to the Longhua funeral home in Shanghai, the cost of using 3D scanning and printing technologies to make a facial recreation would be about 4,000 to 5,000 RMB, roughly 620 to 775 USD. While it remains to be seen whether 3D printing body parts for corpses will catch on in other funeral homes, there is no doubt that even the funeral industry is feeling the benefits of 3D printing technologies.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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