3D printing is making its mark and it’s about to spread its influence a little further in the educational sphere thanks to a new project from the Smithsonian Institute. The Smithsonian has introduced Smithsonian X 3D, a project which will see student, educators and 3D printing hobbyists downloading and printing scale models of some of the museum’s collection of artifacts.
The Smithsonian has taken to scanning items in their collection, turning them into interactive 3D models which can be explored online either through an interactive tour or just by manipulating the digital model. The models can also be downloaded (registration required) and recreated with a 3D printer, letting educators give students a hands-on with history without worrying that they will break it.
There are only a few of the Smithsonian’s items available for download at the moment but the institute is looking to ramp up the process to include hundreds or more new items a year. Due to the nature of the artifacts and the sheer number of them – 137 million or so – that need to be scanned, the project should take a while. But it should be well worth it, if only to bring the past a little closer to the present.
NOTE: This article was originally published with different text (which was then lost in a website glitch). The story is identical, the wording is not.