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Smithsonian Aims To Make Objects In Museum Collection 3D-Printable 73

Posted by Soulskill
from the print-yourself-a-v2-rocket dept.
PatPending writes with this excerpt from CNet: "With just 2 percent of the Smithsonian's archive of 137 million items available to the public at any one time, an effort is under way at the world's largest museum and research institution to adopt 3D tools to expand its reach around the country. CNET has learned that the Smithsonian has a new initiative to create a series of 3D-printed models, exhibits, and scientific replicas — as well as to generate a new digital archive of 3D models of many of the physical objects in its collection. ... They've got technology on their side — with minimally invasive laser scanners they can capture the geometry of just about any object or site with accuracy down to the micron level."
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Smithsonian Aims To Make Objects In Museum Collection 3D-Printable

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  • Along with the claims that physical objects are copyrighted?

  • by Heir Of The Mess (939658) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @07:39PM (#39191935) Homepage
    If they release these models into the public doman this might just be the self justification I need to convince myself to get a 3D printer. They should sell the printers and printer consumables off their website, and give away the models for free.
    • by linatux (63153)

      Take a small cut off the consumables & may well cover the cost of providing the blueprints.

      • by artor3 (1344997) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:10AM (#39194051)

        Please not that. We've been down that road, and we know where it leads. HP will be selling 3D printer "ink" for $100 per microgram.

        • by citizenr (871508)

          Please not that. We've been down that road, and we know where it leads. HP will be selling 3D printer "ink" for $100 per microgram.

          We are already there.
          http://cubify.com/cube/index.aspx [cubify.com]
          They have "cheap" consumer 3D printer, but they charge arm and a leg for plastic AND they charge for individual 3D designs!!!11one

          • by laird (2705)

            Exactly.

            It's interesting to compare Makerbot and its more recent competitor, Cubify, as they do very similar things but with completely different business models, and that makes all the difference.

            Cubify is a "consumer" service from a large, 3D printing company from the "enterprise" space, which views their cheap 3D printer as a way to grow their business by adding a content commerce chain, and adding a low cost home printer, so they're primarily focusing on making a commerce-enabled web site for loading 3D

            • by El Torico (732160)
              Thank you for a comprehensive and useful post. Do you know of any open source CAD programs that support the STL format? I'll be experimenting with various AM machines in a few months (hopefully).
              • by laird (2705)

                There are quite a few free and/or open source CAD programs.

                Google SketchUp is free, though not open source. It is quite friendly to use, runs cross-platform, and can produce STL using an open source plugin. My son has been using it since he was 5, and it's easy to make nice looking things in it.

                OpenSCAD is an open source programming language used for CAD modeling. It's great (I'm a programmer, YMMV) because it allows you to describe exactly what you want, and it's easy to make things parametric, meaning tha

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      yea this isnt going to be done with a hot glue gun being fed water bottles like your average shitty rep-rap

  • by Sebastopol (189276) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @07:42PM (#39191977) Homepage

    Can the lasers penetrate the insides too, or is the 3D object just a convex hull?

  • by holophrastic (221104) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @07:59PM (#39192107)

    my interest in a museum has never been to see a reproduction of an historical achievement. I've no interest in seeing a photograph of the first telephone, nor in seeing a model of the first telephone, nor in seeing a drawing of the first telephone, nor an impressionist painting of the first telephone, nor a spot-on to-the-micron reproduction of the first telephone.

    my interest in a museum is to see the first telephone. Not something created ten minutes ago for me to see, but something created ages ago as an achievement.

    I could care less about the reproduction. Actually, that's a lie. I'd feel ripped off by it.

    Quite frankly, I'd be upset to hear that my country spent good money to create the reproduction, store the reproduction, and hide the original from me.

    show me the original, or destroy the original because it can't be shown.

    • by Fubari (196373) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @08:19PM (#39192267)
      Some (possibly obvious) points; 1) this is about as close to backing up atoms (physical things) as we can get in 2012. Suppose a fire, or nuke, or whatever, takes out the originals (I for one would be grateful to have "just" replicas).
      2) The data points & measurements will surely be of interest to historians & scholars.
      3) I would love to see the scans in a high rez 3d display; could drive useful virtual reality tech. I don't have days (weeks?) to visit the actual museum. And if I ever do get the opportunity to go, I would love to preview the collection and come up with a short list of what I want to look at in person.
      4) Self funding: I suspect the Smithsonian doesn't have as much budget as they might wish. The museum could sell replicas. I wold love to be able buy a nice bit of sculpture or history to display. I'd love to see the patent office do this for some of their old-school "models".

      my interest in a museum has never been to see a reproduction of an historical achievement. I've no interest in seeing a photograph of the first telephone, nor in seeing a model of the first telephone, nor in seeing a drawing of the first telephone, nor an impressionist painting of the first telephone, nor a spot-on to-the-micron reproduction of the first telephone.

      my interest in a museum is to see the first telephone. Not something created ten minutes ago for me to see, but something created ages ago as an achievement.

      I could care less about the reproduction. Actually, that's a lie. I'd feel ripped off by it.

      Quite frankly, I'd be upset to hear that my country spent good money to create the reproduction, store the reproduction, and hide the original from me.

      show me the original, or destroy the original because it can't be shown.

      • 1) as close as we can get doesn't make it good enough for anything. just means that unknown errors become major problems. the idea of an original is that it's definitely correct. not actually correct, definitely correct. there's a big difference.

        2) "of interest" is rarely worth anything. Think about how much anyone cares about 10'000 year old pots, and what they can teach us about prehistoric civilizations. Now imagine that you actually have a near-perfect replica of that bowl. by the way, in differe

        • by Trahloc (842734)
          You're only looking at this from only one angle. The angle of replicas on display in museums, and you protest as if this was something new. It isn't, museums have been showing replicas for as long as they've existed. Virtually every dinosaur display is a cast of the real thing. The world you think exists is already mostly a dream. The difference with this though is we can have our own copy where before the process was so expensive it wasn't possible. You don't value this, I don't begrudge your opinion
          • it's worthless because it devalues everything. yes, I miss the days when I saw real dinosaurs in exhibits.

            but it's important to explain to people who don't know better that they too should find it worthless. otherwise, you get marketing industries generating value where none exists. and that's just bad for civilization as a whole.

            it's not I who finds it worthless. it actually is worthless. the fact that someone can be conduced into attributing value to the item doesn't actually ascribe that value. it

            • it's worthless because it devalues everything. yes, I miss the days when I saw real dinosaurs in exhibits.

              When did they ever have *real dinosaurs* in exhibits? Most fossils aren't the real thing, but mineralized casts, and I'm pretty sure there aren't any whole frozen dinosaurs.

              but it's important to explain to people who don't know better that they too should find it worthless.

              ...snip

              it's not I who finds it worthless. it actually is worthless.

              Contradict yourself much? How about a citation as to the actual worthlessness you keep referring to?

              the fact that someone can be conduced into attributing value to the item doesn't actually ascribe that value. it just fakes that value. and faked values are called bubbles in the finance world, and much much worse things in the biological world.

              "Value" is a matter of perception and relative to context, and therefore subjective. It's all "fake". On that note, what exactly are "faked values" in the biological world, and what are they called? I'm curious.

              You opinions, no matter how

            • by Trahloc (842734)
              At the core of your argument is that you only 'value' some particular quality but not another and you have the gall to speak like you're an authority on the matter "it's important to explain to people who don't know better", the arrogance of that statement is truly amazing. We know it isn't the authentic item, that in no way diminishes our enjoyment of it. That's like saying because grape juice exists suddenly an aged fine wine has had its existence devalued.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      My interest in a museum is the information it conveys, particularly in the case of technology.

      Being able to "print" small examples of machines, tools, etc would convey much more than a photograph. One could get the tactile experience not available from observing objects in a glass cabinet.

      • not true. because the material is different. having a sand version of a chair conveys nothing. not the strength, not the feeling, not the comfort. in fact, nothing but the shape. and you forget that the colour won't be the same either. so the lighting will be totally different. so the perceived shape will be incorrect as well.

        it won't even cast the same shadow, since opacity won't be the same.

        it won't attract the same insects, it won't be the same softness.

        if I told you that I can take the first ever

    • by PeeAitchPee (712652) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:14PM (#39192761)

      Wow, you'd make a really terrible archivist.

      As someone who works with archivists and preservationists all over the country, every day, I can tell you that whether or not you feel "ripped off" is completely irrelevant to that community of folks. Archivists have two main missions. First and foremost, preservation: keeping the original artifact / object / document / etc. intact and protected, as close to its original state as possible. If this means keeping the original out of bright light, prohibiting flash photography, or even eliminating public access altogether and vaulting it, then so be it. This is becoming more and more of a popular trend in museums, for example at certain branches of the Smithsonian -- high-quality repros of paintings, documents, and photographs are displayed, and the originals are vaulted. Secondarily, access is another goal -- again, so long as the artifact can be protected. The high-profile case of theft of original presidential papers at the MD Historical Society last year [baltimoresun.com] has made archivists re-think public access to original artifacts, and sent shock waves through institutions all across the country. Digitization efforts, such as the one in TFA, have taken on an even more important role in terms of achieving the goal of increasing access.

      But don't think for a second that archivists value your selfish desire to view an object "in person" over the need to preserve that object, ever.

      • by holophrastic (221104) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:28PM (#39192885)

        no, you misunderstand me. my point is that you're doing neither. archivist want to protect an object so it can be used in future whatevers. if that means hiding from the public, then yeah, do it. but it's for that end goal. if it will absolutely never be used for anything, then there's no point in keeping it.

        and when it comes to granting access, your second goal, you need to actually grant access. granting access to something else doesn't count. a sand-printed version of archie bunker's chair doesn't grant the public access to anything. it doesn't show if it was hard or soft, what colour, what comfort, nothing. so it's entirely useless.

        archivists, and society in general, need to decide what the end-goal is. if it's to be able to know what was, then it needs to be protected for as long as possible, and studied only with gloved hands by the most esteemed and restricted experts. if it's to share the past with the present, then it needs to be shared. and certainly there's a balance of the two. and I'd be perfectly ok with saying that archie bunker's chair should be preserved until 2050, and then access until it degrades, because by 2055, nobody will care about a television chair anymore.

        I think we can all say that pride aside, having the original presidential papers is far less important than what they stood for. they aren't humanity's achievement, they are merely representitive of that achievement. same with archie's chair. and while I'd be dissappointed to hear that there are no originals of anything from 100 years ago, I'd be equally disappointment to hear that we kept everything for 1'000 years without allowing anyone to touch them.

        not to mention that there's the issue of scale. for the last 100 years, we've attempted to keep everything. so it 500 years from now, when you're living on venus, are you really going to care than 600 years earlier, a culture-busting tv show's chair is still being protected back on earth?

        I love archie bunkers chair. and I treat it with the greatest respect. but in and of itself, it has no value in 500 years.

        so what exactly are we saving? for whom and what for? do you really want to ressurect the dinosaurs, sure, there are loads of things that we could learn in doing so. do we really want to ressurect a mayan kitchen cabinet? there's a big difference there. more than one.

        and when the cost is to specifically hide archie bunker's chair from the people today who would really enjoy seeing it, or sitting in it. there is undoubtedly more money to be had by selling expensive tickets to sit in that chair than to orbit the planet. there are enough people who would pay over a thousand dollars to sit in the chair. and enough contract law, and insurance, to cover malicious intent.

        you can share the present, or you can protect the past, or you can do neither. both just isn't worth it.

        • I love archie bunkers chair. and I treat it with the greatest respect. but in and of itself, it has no value in 500 years.

          That's not for you, or anyone else, to decide in 2012. There's no way to tell exactly what information, and artifacts, will be of value in the future, and what will not. Professional archivists and preservation people know this, and that's why they do what they do.

          you can share the present, or you can protect the past, or you can do neither. both just isn't worth it.

          Nonsense. Larg

          • so whose job is it to decide what is useless today? you're saying that the chair is more valuable in 100 years than to someone today.

            neither is more likely. but more importantly, it's called hoarding.

            but we're not talking about any of that. we're talking about 3d printed reproductions. which aren't accurate enough to be worth anything, because the material's different. so they are totally useless. and they serve to devalue the originals just the same.

            • by Trahloc (842734)
              The people 500 years from now judge whats important in 500 years. We store cultural artifacts for them, not us. What is the limit for storing cultural artifacts? Those in charge of storing those artifacts will decide that. Why do they have a right to decide that? Because those who owned the items and donated them to the archive gave them that right.
              • none of that makes it better. you're by definition storing some things that no one will ever want.
                but still, that's not the discussion here. we're talking about crappy copies, not storage.

                • by Trahloc (842734)
                  Storage is part of the discussion as you want things to be publicly accessible until they are destroyed. The current consensus is we don't want that, which you have been arguing against.
    • Some people ARE interested in what is in a museum. Builders of historical instruments, for instance. As an instrument builder, I like this tremendously. The object of my interest can now be printed, and I can take a good look up close. In the museum, the object is behind glass, unless you make an appointment to measure it. In the case of the Haags Gemeentemuseum, for example, this fails.
    • by Sigg3.net (886486)

      Seems like you want to go to the circus or the fair and not a museum..

  • by wisebabo (638845) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:21PM (#39192829) Journal

    I really wish the consumer level 3D printers could match the quality of the ones they're using. (Disclaimer: I've never handled the output from either so I'm just looking at pictures. But the ones shown in the link look much better without any obvious pixelization or should I say "voxelization"?).

    Oh well, another 5 years I guess. (Still I'm glad to be living now and not, say, during the middle ages!).

  • these two guys are focusing on many organic items, that in time will degrade. It is a pity that the article did not stress that aspect. Yeah, 3D printing is the new buzz, but being able to document the geometry of things that crumble with time and oxidation is a service that is invaluable.
  • by macshit (157376) <miles AT gnu DOT org> on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @11:51PM (#39193929) Homepage
    Anyone know if the 3d models (of those things they've scanned so far) are already available as a download somewhere? It'd be cool throw Jefferson into a render or two...
  • Excellent! They can use TPB's physibles [thepiratebay.se] category.
  • The guy who was hired to prepare a replica of Pres. Thomas Jefferson's lap desk charges a modest fee for the plans which I've never been able to justify --- just being able to download a file w/ accurate dimensions would let me make my own.

    William

  • Tons of dinosaurs and other creatures lie 'undiscovered' because the holotypes are sitting in a museum basement and no one has gotten around to describing them. If museums were able to scan their entire collections, and were willing to put up the data in an open-access way, paleontologists could get a lot more done. Of course, at some point someone would have to actually brave the dust and examine the fossil itself, but for cladistic studies and searching for new material to work on, it seems like a heck of

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton

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