Feb.25, 2012

It's hard to tell that this Thomas Jefferson statue is created using 3D printing technology and not the traditional methods - with rubber molding and casting. This is a recent work from the world's largest Museum and research institution Smithsonian.

For exhibiting the National Museum of African American History called "Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty", Smithsonian needed a statue of Thomas Jefferson but the original statue was on permanent display at Monticello in Virginia. Smithsonian finally decided to make a replica with high-tech scanners and 3D printing.

They contracted with Studio EIS to generate a very detailed 3D model using a $100,000 high-end Minolta laser scanner. The digital data was then sent to RedEye on Demand, a business unit of Stratasys, a third-party company that specializes in rapid prototyping and manufacturing. RedEye on Demand used a 3D printer to print the statue in four parts using production-grade thermoplastics which is strong and durable. And a "sparse-fill technique", a process similar to honeycomb is used for printing statue's interior. The photo below shows the assembled statue before being painted.

Finished statue painted with bronze color and on display at Monticello, the Thomas Jefferson museum in Virginia.

This sculpture was the first piece in Smithsonian to be replicated, and it is the largest 3D printed museum quality historical replica on Earth, according to Smithsonian.

Smithsonian hopes this initiative could create a new form of large collection of 3D scanned models and 3D printed statue which could be available to the public, to schools and museums. According to Adam Metallo, a 3D digitization coordinator at the Smithsonian, there are 137 million pieces in museum's collections, but only 2% is on display at a time due to limited spaces. The powerful 3D scanning and 3D printing technology allow scientists copy all collection in this world's largest museum into physical and digital 3D models. These digital files can be easily accessible to researchers and students. And by displaying 3D printed models and replicas at multiple locations, the museum could broaden its reach to more targeted audiences.

Photos credit / Source: CNET

Posted in 3D Print Applications



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Flavio wrote at 8/15/2013 3:10:04 PM:

Great! But how does it cost printing the statue?

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