Want a personal copy of your favorite sculpture? With a camera and 3-D printer you can make one.

Take hundreds of pictures of your favorite sculpture, drop them into specialty software, touch up the results, and you can print a replica to enjoying your home or office.

That’s where 3-D printing is at right now.

Cosmo Wenman took 1000 pictures of a favorite sculpture and now has a replica he can hold in his hand.

Here is the video:

Through a Scanner, Getty


I don’t know anything about living at this level, but apparently for a long time the well-to-do have commissioned copies of artwork. The explanation to the above video says:

For thousands of years, powerful people have commissioned artists to venture into museums, churches, temples, and ruins around the world to make copies for their private collections. Today, with 3D scanning, photo-stitching, and printing, that tradition is poised to evolve and spread faithful reproductions of treasured artwork far beyond the walls of elite palaces.

Now just about anyone can do the same.

Virginia Postrel describes this project in her article 3-D Copying Makes Michelangelo’s out of the Masses:

Wenman turned the photos into three-dimensional digital maps, using a free program called Autodesk 123D Catch. Then he used the maps to print miniature plastic replicas on the $2,000 MakerBot 3-D printer in his home office. And he made one of his best scans freely available, uploading it to the Thingiverse site where MakerBot enthusiasts share digital plans. Now, alongside the hobbyist designs for specialty tools, robot figurines and hair ornaments, you can find an 18th-century relief, John Deare’s “Venus Reclining on a Sea Monster with Cupid and a Putto.”

Here is the real brain stretcher: detailed instructions for creating a 3-D print of sculptures will eventually be made at very high resolution and made publicly available.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is already moving in that direction. They are working with others to create high-quality photos of some of their art and convert those pictures into the detail instructions needed for a 3-D print. They plan to make those available, apparently at no charge.

Read the comments on the video above for a longer explanation of where this is going. 


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