One thing all humans share is mortality. And universally, many of us, as well as our cultures as a whole, deal with death, and its sadness and finality, in different ways. While there are many different emotional, spiritual, and cultural facets associated with death, there’s also the matter of business associated with it–and you guessed it, real estate. Even when you die, there’s a price-tag attached–for someone.
In highly populated countries like China–which just happens to be the most populated in the world–space is at a premium, whether you are living or dead. And while the communist nation may map out plenty in terms of what their citizens may do, as well as the famed one child per couple rule, city officials in large cities like Beijing and Shanghai have not explicity mapped out what to do with citizens after they’ve expired. And this is going to come to a head eventually, as graveyards are running out of room. What space is available costs nearly as much as buying a pricey flat, with some prices to be seen at RMB 400,000, which translates to around US $62,900.
And while cremation is extremely popular in China, it should perhaps become even more so as no one will have anywhere to put their dead otherwise, by the looks of things. The Chinese government is well aware, and the topic of making cremation mandatory has been a long–but so far not enforced–idea.
Ma Lei, founder of Yiko, has a clear view of the issues with burials, and is very much on board with persuading everyone else to understand why cremation is better.
“There’s no room for graveyards in China now,” says Ma. “In ten years, there will not even be enough graveyard space for the people of Shanghai.”
After working as both a real estate agent and an employee at a hospital, MA saw the issues at hand and was inspired to start his innovative business which he sees great potential for due to a faltering funeral business market in his country.
“The funeral industry has been declining for a long time, but it’s also a huge market space,” says Ma.
Launching his own campaign for cremation in China through Yiko, Ma aims to help, educate, and provide an all-in-one platform where citizens can allow his company to handle the whole process through to cremation. Yiko offers:
- Funerary product sales
- Cemetery plots
- Organ donation services
- Hospice care services
- Online genealogies
He’s employed 3D printing to help him with this end, as well, offering up the technology to entice people with curiosity, as well as allowing them to benefit from the speed, personalization, affordability factors that 3D printing offers.
A customized message and name are carved into each 3D printed funeral urn in the shape of a house siting on a cloud, guaranteed to last for a thousand years. There’s specific meaning behind the design as well, because many Chinese believe that upon death, they go to live in eternity above the clouds.
The 3D printed urns take about 12 hours to create, and they retail for 11,000 RMB, which translates to about $1,700 USD. To gain traction in the business market, Ma Lei has joined Feimalv, which is a startup accelerator from Shanghai. They assist in funding, additional resources for advancement, as well as other services. Ma Lei is working with them to build up his new business platform in the Chinese funeral market, as well as working to educate the public on the issues surrounding funerals and internment, coordinating it with Buddhist ideals more in order to both encourage and bring light to the subject.
Would you want to be remembered by a 3D Printed Urn? Let’s hear your thoughts. Discuss in the 3D Printed Urn Forum thread on 3DPB.com.