RedEye On Demand Uses 3D Printing to Create Museum-Quality Statue

RedEye On Demand, a digital manufacturing service and business unit of Stratasys, Inc. (NASDAQ: SSYS), has collaborated on a project with the Smithsonian to create one of the largest 3D-printed, museum-quality historical replicas in the world.

The life-size statue of Thomas Jefferson is a central piece of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) exhibition, “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty,” which runs through October 14, 2012.

“The details RedEye On Demand incorporated into the Jefferson statue and the quality of the model exceeded our expectations,” says Dorey Butter, Project Manager, NMAAHC. “3D printing supports the Smithsonian’s mission to increase and diffuse knowledge. Touchable models and scientific replicas can help further our efforts to educate our visitors, and the technology and services at RedEye On Demand have opened our eyes to different possibilities.”

To develop the statue, the Smithsonian's Digitization Program Office took 3D laser scans of an already existing statue created by StudioEIS and residing at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home near Charlottesville, Va. That data was sent to RedEye On Demand as a digital model, and the statue was produced in four parts using Stratasys’ patented Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology.

The statue was created entirely from production-grade thermoplastics for strength and durability. RedEye On Demand employed a sparse-fill technique for the interior of the statue, much like a honeycomb, to reduce the figure’s weight and lower cost while still preserving quality and retaining strength.

Total build time was nearly 400 hours, or about two and a half weeks, compared to a several month production time for a traditional bronze statue of this size. Once assembled, the figure was “bronzed” through a creative application of primer, paint and wax to give the statue a realistic patina.

“The statue points to the range of possibilities with 3D printing and production,” says Richard Garrity, VP of RedEye on Demand. “We are expanding the reach of our services beyond traditional design firms and product development, and our work with the Smithsonian demonstrates our ability to offer customized parts and products for unique, one-off applications in an affordable way. As demand for this kind of rapid customization continues to increase, so do the capabilities and quality of our work, and this project is just one example of what we can do,” he adds. Once the Smithsonian exhibition ends, the statue may be used for educational purposes at Monticello.

A case study of the project is available at: www.redeyeondemand.com/CS_TJefferson.aspx

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