Living in the Past with Future 3D Printing Services

By on April 10th, 2009 in blog

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3DScanCo, makers of what else, but 3D Scanners, published an interesting case study involving their scanning products. They were approached by Priceless Past, who wished to obtain a highly detailed digital capture of a priceless bronze dagger from ancient China:

Priceless Past entrusted 3DScanCo to perform non-contact 3D laser scanning on the dagger at 3DScanCo’s engineering service center. 3DScanCo used the Konica Minolta VIVID 9i to perform high resolution 3D laser scans of the dagger, capturing the extremely fine markings and details. The VIVID 9i was ideal due to its ability to scan at very high detail without the use of probes; a completely non-contact scanning process. The raw scan data was imported into Rapidform XOS software to register and merge the dagger into a .STL polymesh file format which can be used for rapid prototyping and visualization.

Being history buffs here, we immediately jumped over to the Priceless Past site and found the aforementioned dagger here. Unfortunately, it says “This one didn’t last long!” and we put away our Paypal account number. But that got us thinking.

Rare collectibles such as the bronze dagger are of great interest to many, but their rarity causes the price of an item like that to be well beyond many budgets. This means that many collectors, schools and museums can only examine images and imagine what the artifact is really like.

But what if detailed 3D models were captured for many ancient artifacts and offered as choices from a 3D print service’s library? Third parties could add to the experience by providing detailed paintovers to match the original. Today’s print services mostly offer pre-made or end-user submitted designs, but we think this might be an interesting addition to any 3D print service.

Via 3DScanCo and Priceless Past

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!


  1. There are so many applications of 3d printing that are changing rapidly. Once the consumables from the current manufacturers comes down in price more business models will be able to benefit with 3d printing over current methods such as plaster casting. You can view some of our projects at

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