The use of 3D printing applications in creating replicas of historical artifacts is a truly extraordinary aspect of 3D printing for use in education. Schools that now have access to 3D printers can scan items and create basic replicas students can touch and examine without having to have the original piece ruined from handling. While this is still limited in only some schools, it may increase now that museums are starting to take things forward in doing more.
Most recently, it's been Kendal Museum in the U.K. that's worked with a team of engineers from a U.K. university on scanning items from Ancient Egypt. Not long ago, these engineers were able to take a complete scan of a few famous pieces of Egyptian sculptures using just a digital SLR camera. The results were quite stunning and never done at this kind of level before just using a basic digital camera.
With these scans, they were able to use a 3D printer to print basic replicas students will now be able to hold and touch in Kendal Museum. And you have to see those eventually making it to classrooms where education in learning about world history could be taken to awesome new levels.
Will Scans of Historical Items Become More Lifelike?
These new scans of Ancient Egyptian artifacts are obviously going to be just the beginning. Also, these initial scans are very basic and only allow one to feel the overall texture and shape of the artwork. They aren't in full color or exact copies. But 3D printing is already capable of printing exact copies once laser scanning is applied and the use of 3D printers using multiple colors can be used in an affordable way. Most 3D printers capable of this cost in the multiple thousands of dollars and won't make it practical right now.
Just having basic replicas available, though, is a major advancement in helping to understand our past in a more tangible way without destroying the original items. Once this becomes standard in the classroom, a new generation of kids are going to have a fresh perspective on the world around them. It ultimately won't stop with historical artifacts either and will go into things like internal bodily organs, plus natural artifacts like fossils.
Tangible history is truly the way forward in learning and better understanding where we've come from. We can only hope every school has a 3D printer in another couple of years that enables this sooner rather than being exclusive to just museums.