3D Printing Combines Historic Japanese Samurai Sword Craftsmanship with Modern Technology

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image4Sword making in Japan is more common than most people believe. In fact, they refer to the process as “swordsmithing”, and it has been passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years.

One type of sword is a representation of historic Japan, as well highly sought after by sword collectors around the world. It is the katana sword, which was used within feudal Japan, and is most commonly referred to as the “samurai sword”. It is noted for its curved, slender, single-edged blade, as well as a long grip that is meant for use with both hands.

Sword makers in Japan are quite serious about what they do, perhaps best compared to shoemakers in Italy, or watchmakers in Switzerland. For one Japanese startup, called Kabuku Inc, they are taking a more modern approach to developing their own katana swords. With the help of 3D printers from Stratasys, they are creating a new product which they call “SUMISAYA”. “SUMISAYA is a case made specifically for the company’s katana swords, and as you can see in the photos, is quite the masterpiece.

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“Kabuku Inc. and Studio Shikumi Inc. [are] pleased to announce the release of the world’s first art product integrating traditional Japanese katana swords craftsmanship with more than 400 years of history and innovative design with the latest 3D printing technology,” explained a company spokesperson.

The complete product consists of a Japanese katana sword which is handcrafted by craftsmen who have inherited the traditional technique from past generations within the Kansai region of Japan, as well as a 3D printed case for the sword, called “SUMISAYA”. The complete product will be available to purchase from the company’s website starting on November 16, 2014.

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“The katana sword case “SUMISAYA” will reflect intimate beauty of the sword, and will provide a completely new way of katana appreciation,” said the company.

Specifically, the design of the case focuses on “Hamon”, which is an elegant distinct swerving line down the center of the sword as well as its cross sections. “Though those elements are hidden in the traditional cases, the product was designed to reflect them by using 3D printing technology, creating a completely new way of katana appreciation,” the company explained.

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“We believe new 3D print designed products will enhance [the] potential of long-established Japanese traditional technologies,” Yasuhide Yokoi, an industrial designer for Kabuku Inc. tells 3DPrint.com.

The sword, as well as the SUMISAYA, will be on display for one day at a reception at the BA-TSU Art Gallery in Omotesando, Tokyo on November 16. For those of you who have access to a high end 3D printer, the SUMISAYA cases will be made available for free download via the Rinkak website. Rinkaka is a new Japanese manufacturing marketplace for use with digital fabrication technologies such as 3D printing.

What do you think about this idea of combining the history of swordsmithing with new technologies such as 3D printing? What do you think about these swords and the SUMISAYA case? Discuss in the SUMISAYA forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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