Not sure if you’ll ever be able to cross visiting the Smithsonian off your bucket list? With 3D printing, the hottest tech trend around these days, you can bring the Smithsonian to you.
Imagine being able to print a museum artifact to take a closer look at it, without even getting up from your computer. It’s possible now that you can use 3D Printing to Recreate Smithsonian Artifacts at Home, although the list of items that are available to be printed is currently just a bit on the tiny side.
For months, the Smithsonian has been using 3D scanners to create 3D models, and the same technology they use is now available to the public. Using Web GL in a standard online browser, it’s possible to examine and print 3D versions of almost two dozen historical artifacts from around the world that are housed at the Smithsonian. Two dozen doesn’t really sound like an impressive number but it really is, considering that it would take 270 years of nonstop work to capture the museum’s 137 million objects in 3D if the museum staff were to digitize one object every minute.
While there’s been no mention of when the catalog of 3D printable items might grow, it’s probably safe to assume that more items will be digitized and made available to the public, with Günter Waibel, Director of the Smithsonian’s Digitization Program Office, seeing digitization as an opportunity to bring the remaining 99% of the collection into the virtual light since only 1% of collections are physically on display in Smithsonian museum galleries.