Michelangelo’s sculptures recreated with scanners and 3D printers

3D scanning
Final edited polygonal mesh of Michelangelo’s “Pieta” © Scansite

The ability to 3D scan, preserve and ultimately copy a piece of history is undoubtedly one of the best uses of technology.

The designers at California-based Studio FATHOM focused on cutting-edge technology combined with a specialization in 3D writing and additive manufacturing; They worked with other companies around San Francisco to recreate Michelangelo’s famous Pieta, along with 27 other works by Renaissance masters.

3D scanning
Moses 3D printed from collected 3D data © Scansite

During this partnership – which also includes foundry company Artworks Foundry and 3D scanning company Scansite – a limited number of pristine reproductions of Michelangelo’s works can be produced almost from the other side of the world. Experts from these three companies will create one of the most advanced 3D copy projects ever.

While sculptors have been using the same stereotypical metal casting techniques for centuries, the combination of scanning and 3D printing offers a more seamless and durable way to replicate the classics.

“We now have the ability to reproduce something that remains fairly faithful to the original piece,” says Piero Mussi, founder of the Artwork foundry. “And that has never been done in the past.” After 40 years of using the lost wax technique he learned from metalworkers in Italy, Mussi combined 3D scanning and 3D printing. He sees it as one of the most remarkable developments of the centuries. Although Mussi uses his traditional methods of production, his ability to preserve detail and reproduce it using 3D technology has led him to support 3D technology. “We have very good breeding,” Mussi said. “No artist can do that. Only technology can do that.”

3D scanning
Statue of Bacchus from 3D data to 3D printing
3D scanning
Final edited 3D scan data of Michelangelo’s “Moses” © Scansite

Scansite is responsible for collecting scan data from the original cast before processing the point cloud and 3D model data. After completing the final files, they give them to Fathom, who uses the 3D printer to create the models. Once the models are 3D printed, they hand them over to Musi and the Arts Foundry, who will use them to make candle moulds. Candle molds are finally used in the lost wax casting process to recreate bronzes. This process has remained unchanged for thousands of years, although it is currently used in conjunction with modern 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies.

Throughout the United States, identical bronze castings are available in Berkeley, California; thanks to the mixed use of highly advanced manufacturing technologies, the perfection of the replicas is unparalleled.

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