A life-size, 3D printed replica of Michelangelo Buonarroti’s world renowned “David” statue was unveiled in early May 2021 as the centrepiece of the Italy Pavilion at the Expo 2020 world fair in Dubai.
Described as “David’s twin,” the 17-foot-tall, 3D-printed statue weighs over 1,200 pounds (550 kilograms), much less than the five-tonne original renaissance marble sculpture. The lengthy reproduction process of the famous work of art began in December 2020 through digitization and 3D printing, representing new opportunities for future, more accurate scans and preservation efforts of iconic art pieces.
To ensure that every last detail of the heroic David, carrying a sling on his left shoulder, was accurately replicated, using 3D scanning technology. The scanning team worked alongside a group of geomatic researchers (experts in measurement and digitization) from the University of Florence to create the replica, capturing all of the dents and imperfections that the statue has suffered throughout the last 500-plus years.
Once the high-resolution scans were done, ensuring every detailed element was accurately captured, the team created a prototype, before using a 3D printer that allowed large print sizes and speeds for the final replica. It took them 160 print hours to create the 14 pieces that were later assembled to make “David’s twin.”
Following the 3D printing, experts in the restoration of large sculptures, worked for two months to wrap the 3D printed parts in a resin and Carrara marble mixture powder. The added material endowed the sculpture with a “skin” that helped recreate the look of the original marble statue.
Following its appearance at the Expo, David’s “digital twin” will be used to help experts and restorers preserve the original statue and other iconic art pieces by analysing the effects of acid rain, dust, and even traces of the different tools used to create it.
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