3D copying makes Michelangelos of the masses

June 17, 2012 | Source: Bloomberg

(Credit: Cosmo Wenman)

Cosmo Wenman went to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, took hundreds of pictures, documenting busts and reliefs from every accessible angle, and 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, an 18th-century relief, John Deare’s “Venus Reclining on a Sea Monster with Cupid and a Putto, freely available, uploading it to the Thingiverse site, where MakerBot enthusiasts share digital plans.

On Thingiverse, you can also find data maps for around three dozen sculptures from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. the result of an official collaboration between MakerBot Industries LLC and the Met.

The combination of digital scans and inexpensive 3-D printing could do for three-dimensional art what prints have been doing for paintings and drawings for 500 years: make these works familiar, beloved and visually influential to people who will never have a chance to see them in person.