3D Printing Allows for the Reproduction of Michelangelo’s Iconic Sculptures

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fathom3When it comes to classical works of Renaissance art, one name stands toward the top echelon of sculptors. That name is Michelangelo, and his works are some of the most extraordinary pieces we have ever seen. Over the centuries since his time, there have been many individuals and companies who have tried their hardest to replicate these works, but none have succeeded. There is one simple reason for this; very few artists, if any, have the talent that the legendary Michelangelo had.

We, however, live in an age of technology. Thanks to the recent advancements in 3D scanning and 3D printing capabilities, we are now able to recreate objects of the past with much greater precision and accuracy than ever before. Recently, three companies teamed up to take on a project unlike anything seen previously. Studio FATHOM, Artworks Foundry, and Scansite formed a partnership in order to create scaled down limited edition reproductions of some of history’s most recognizable artworks.

FATHOM specializes in 3D printing, while Scansite is known for their 3D scanning technology, and Artworks Foundry for their professional bronze casting. They proved that when these three technologies are combined, something amazing can occur.

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The founder of Artworks Foundry, Piero Mussi, has been using traditional lost wax casting techniques for over 40 years, but recently he opened up to the idea of using 3D scanning and 3D printing as a means to create more precise replicas of ancient art.

“Now we have the facility to be able to reproduce something that is very faithful to the original,” explained Mussi, “and that’s something that’s never been done in the past. We get a reproduction that is really good. No artist can do it. Only the technology can do it.”

fathom4Studio FATHOM has been specializing in 3D printing technology for some time now, so when an opportunity arose to take part in a project of this magnitude, they didn’t bat an eyelid.

“What is so unique about this project is the utilization of 3D printing and 3D scanning in an industry which has remained unchanged for over a thousand years,” explained Rich Stump, Principal at FATHOM.

The work is being done for Renaissance Masters, an art liaison that has received authorization to reproduce 28 of Michelangelo’s works. They provided Scansite with permission to scan bronze castings of these works that were made from original molds crafted by the Marinelli Pontifical Foundry in Italy.

Scansite 3D scanned the statues, and then converted the point cloud data into 3D printable STL files that FATHOM can 3D print. Once these replicas are 3D printed, Artworks Foundry uses lost wax casting to cast them in bronze, thus allowing for the recreation of these amazing ancient works.

“For more than 500 years, Michelangelo’s marble sculpture Pietà has been housed in St. Peter’s Basilica,” writes FATHOM on their blog. “Across the Atlantic Ocean and the entirety of the United States, identical bronze castings now exist in Berkeley, California thanks to the blended use of advanced manufacturing technologies. The accuracy of the replicas is unprecedented.”

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It should be interesting to see if this combination of technologies is used more and more as time goes on. The ability to have scaled down replicas of various works from history recreated could open a lot of doors within educational institutions. Imagine being able to study sculptures that are housed thousands of miles away in every university in the world, thanks to these incredible innovations.

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