How do you solve a problem like Tutankhamun? Well, if you need to ship his leathery hide around the world – something which would risk damage and sovereignty – you print him of course. In this case, you use 3D printing to create a life-like, or in this case death-like, copy in three dimensions.
Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities employed a CT scanner to map the ancient pharaoh’s body, all the way through, then used a MaterialiseMammoth Stereolithograph to produce an identical copy in the round.
Primarily used for prototyping and small-production runs, the machine uses a photopolymer resin to form the product in sections about six feet in length. The CT scans are imported and rendered using Materialise’s software. Lasers guide the shape, laying down thin sheets until they build up into the figure. A modeler finishes, adding texture and color.
The fake Tut is accurate (or inaccurate depending on your point of view) right down to the famous missing micro-wang.
With all of Howard Carter’s Tuthankhamun excavation material now available online, and 3D printing technology getting more common, I wonder if there will come a time when you can print out your own desktop Tut or other historical remains and artifacts in order to better understand them? That’d be cool.
Watch this video on the printing of a pharaoah. It’s a nice creepy cross between the Alien films and Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos.
This Tut replica is currently on display in New York and next year will wing its way to Denver.