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- Something new is coming to 3DPrinting.org. A new focus on education and placing a 3D Printer in every school that wants one. Stay tuned!
In the world of 3D printing, most people wouldn't have ever dreamed that museums would be able to take advantage of 3D printing opportunities in bringing better exhibits. The true beauty of 3D printing in the world of education is the ability to scan a rare object and then print it out for students to study in the classroom. It's a procedure we've written about here before in the profound implications of students being able to inspect things they couldn't have before. Some of those 3D-printed objects students can now inspect include everything from works of art to a human brain.
As much as this changes how students think of the world, it's taken some time to expand beyond this point where museums could do the same thing. Leave it up to the Smithsonian Institution to take on a 3D digitization program where they scan an ancient item that ordinarily might be impossible to bring in to a museum. In this first-time case, it's a whale fossil found recently in Chile that was digitally scanned to create a 3D duplicate for all to see without making the original susceptible to damage.
And this isn't the only important museum item the Smithsonian is printing that range in numerous sizes. While it isn't known whether they can be touched or not, the advantage is that 3D-printed items can easily be inspected without causing damage. Considering fossils and other historical items are usually much too fragile, will museums start providing 3D copies so students and everyone else can touch those items to give a more vivid sense of history?
The Advent of Tangible Museums
You have to see more than the Smithsonian taking 3D printing on in the future for the sake of bringing a tangible advantage for visitors. It's not a challenge to envision museums scanning some of our most important historical items and providing 3D duplicates of them in full color for people to inspect. This could mean holding a 3D replica of Lincoln's death mask, or perhaps even a giant replica of one of the Apollo capsules from NASA's moon mission.
Being able to touch historical items in 3D replica form can give people a better understanding of history by assimilating textures and shapes. When you can experience history and parts of the world through this method, it immediately changes our perceptions of everything around us. Once that's realized, 3D printing becomes thought of in a much bigger light than just changing the realms of manufacturing.