3D Printing – Bringing History to Life

It’s crazy but 3D printing technology is actually ‘bringing history to life’

In the movie Jurassic Park, the professor talked about how the DNA sample of dinosaur’s was collected from mosquitoes blood that were fossilised, which were then further cloned. Well, it’s not just hard to believe, it’s rather impossible, right? But then this happened, a few Australia scientists came together to bring a dinosaur ‘back to life’ using a world-first approach combining three-dimensional (3D) printing and virtual reality (VR). During the same time, students pursuing mechatronics, a field of science which combines electronic and mechanical engineering, from the University of Deakin were using bones that were uncovered to create a 3D model of the dinosaur on a computer.  It is believed that experts from Deakin University Reality Lab will create a VR experience to make the tactile 3D- printed model of the dinosaur appear real once the project is completed.

Photo: The Leaellynasaura was likely shy, so those approaching it in VR will have to do so carefully. (Source: Deakin University)

“We’re looking at how we can use virtual reality and 3D printing to help with providing educational experiences in a museum context,” Mr. Horan told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). “So we are doing experiments on how we can best print dinosaur-like skin so people will not just feel the geometry, the size and the scale but also the contour of the skin as well.”[1]It’s not only dinosaur’s which are being replicated, even revival of Godzilla is in action.

When we look at 3D printing as a whole concept, it is both- ‘revival of old’ and ‘development of new’. Not only science fiction and fantasy movies are being revived back from death but even emperors, art and architectures are being summoned from the grave. Last year in University of Virginia, 3D printing project began as a thank-you gift. A fourth year student Greg Lewis, pursuing double major in mechanical engineering and classics, enjoyed his associate professor’s classes so much that he decided to give a token of appreciation to her. In order to give a thoughtful, personalized gift, he combined his interests in art and engineering and used UVA’s rapid prototyping lab to create a miniature, 3D printed vase that mimicked the ancient Greek vases that he studied in class. His professor, Smith loved the gift and more than that the idea behind it. She and Lewis teamed up to create exact replicas of ancient Greek vases and teach students about 3D printing processes. “I wanted to create scale replicas, so that students could pass them around the classroom and have a chance to handle them,” Smith said. [2]The vase Lewis is scanning, was realized that it was made in southern Italy and dates back to the fourth century. The design on the vase was found out to be associated with grape harvest, wine making and wine with the reference of the Greek God Dionysus. It was supposedly used as a wine cup and then stored in the tomb of the owner, where it remained intact until it was unearthed centuries later. The printers can create extraordinarily intricate objects with many moving parts or oddly shaped components. Objects are printed using acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, the same plastic used to create LEGO toys. Creating one vase takes about nine hours, as the machines print hundreds of extremely thin layers on top of each other, eventually building the whole object. The finished product is a colorful replica that exactly reflects the contours and thickness of the original vase created so many centuries ago. Unlike the original, students pick up, handle and measure the replicas as often as they wish, creating a tactile learning experience not often found in the study of ancient art.[3]How interestingly something actually picked out of grave centuries later, hence proving that 3D printing actually ‘brings history alive’.

Picture Credit: http://www.vishwagujarat.com/technology/3d-printing-virtual-reality-used-bring-dinosaur-life/

In India, looking at the equipped audience, a company called Novabeans pioneered 3D printing solutions. It is basically consultancy providers who started specializing on the usage of 3D printing and providing special knowledge for the same. The main proposition of Novabeans is to ‘bring art to life’. The best art from our past could be the force driving and inspiring our future, leaving the caveaux of museum and private collections to enter our everyday lives, through the power of 3D printing technologies. Novabeans in joint venture with its Italian partner Artificial is bringing western art models from the classical Greek period, through to the Renaissance, Islamic, Asian, African and Hebrew artifacts to India. Each sculpture has been carefully 3D scanned and 3D modeled into a perfect virtual replica using latest and most sophisticated 3d printing technology. [4]

Another case study that shows how 3D printing history has developed and how it is bring back history to life is that of Audi. Audi ToolMaking recreated a vintage model of a car from 1930s using 3D printing. It’s said that the car has literally been reborn through the power of print. The resources informed that the technology of 3D printing was being tested and evaluated for producing complex components in the future, but it is not considered to be the latest means of producing or rather manufacturing vehicles. “We are pushing forward with new manufacturing technologies at Audi Toolmaking and at the Volkswagen Group,” says Prof. Dr. Hubert Waltl, Audi’s Board of Management Member for Production and Head of Toolmaking at the Volkswagen Group. [5]They also confirmed that their goal is to apply metal printers in series of productions but they are still constantly exploring boundaries of new processes.

Picture Credit : http://thefutureofthings.com/8973-7-major-advancements-3d-printing-is-making-in-the-medical-field/

It does not just stop here, 3D printing has impacted the society by medical improvements. Be it development of prosthetic body parts or efficient demonstration of organ transplants, medically speaking 3D printing as benefited the society a lot. In this case, saving people from becoming history by keeping them alive.

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