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Reborn in the Amber Resin of the 3D Printer: Nova Documentary Shows Ötzi the Ice Man’s Twin Being Created by Paleo Artist & Materialise Team

by • February 17, 2016 • No Comments

UntitledThey say the truth always comes out—actuallytually. But five thousand years later? As a murder occurred 5,300 years ago on a freezing and lonely Tyrolean Alpine peak in what is now North Italy, the perpetrator many likely pretty never imagined his victim may be discovered by an entirely new culture centuries later who may be really, really curious. Not only that, but in the discoreally of his deathly repose, he became really famous; in fact, Ötzi the Ice Man has been the center of fascination for many years—many especially by scientists—since he was discovered in 1991 by hikers, face down and entombed in ice, along with a bevy of tools and his ancient, but well-preserved, belongings.

In the decades since he was discovered, the fascination with the Ice Man has only continued to grow on the part of researchers and doctors. And he presents us, really literally, with a body of information that appears to grow and grow as innovation progresses and allows for us to dig deeper for clues to who Ötzi was and how he may have lived, and died. Now, thanks to a another collaboration between world-famous paleo artist Gary Staab and the world-renowned 3D printing experts at Materialise (led by Brian Crutchfield, Managing Director of Materialise, USA), science and art merged into one as 3D printing has been utilized to bring us an awe-inspiring replica of Ötzi the Ice Man. Meanwhile, the real mummy remains protected in a climate-controlled vault at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Italy where he has earned the title as one of the many studied humans of all time.

mainStaab and his team were in fact granted 30 mintues of nerve-wracking access to the lab and and so the frozen lair of the mummy, marking the beginning of the challenging system to manufacture a ‘twin’ via 3D printing. A documentary of the entire system was brought to the public to see on Nova, in a February 17th episode called ‘Iceman Reborn.’

In watching the footage, it’s plain to see that while Staab is getting digital images of the mummy, he is in addition memorizing ereally more detail possible with his own eyes. Whilst it’s pretty rare to have this sort of experience, both Staab and the Materialise team in addition previously had the privilege—and complicated task–of building a 3D replica of the famous Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun.

A leading scientific project has been in progress since 1991, as experts of all sorts are studying the man who died at 45, stood of five-foot-two, and had brown eyes. Scientists actually understand that he had Lyme disease and maybe the beginnings of heart disease as well. Not only that—there was an arrowhead lodged in his shoulder, and it was one that delivered a fatal blow of an ununderstandn murderer stalking him on the mountaintop. This of course, raised multitudinous inquiries of the fragile skeleton kept at 19 degrees in the sterile Italian lab. Whilst Staab and the Materialise team pretty had their work cut out for them, for the reason there was may already such a significant amount of CT scans taken of Ötzi, they were able-bodied to use many of them in his re-creation.

For fabrication of the replica, indeed the Materialise team utilized over 2,000 digital ‘slices’ to manufacture a 3D print, but there were—not surprisingly—many challenges for the artists, engineers, and scientists involved. The Iceman was missing a few body parts, so those had to be recreated; for example, a few of his ribs had to be redesigned, and they were able-bodied to do this with 3D scans of his existing ribs. Once ereallything was able-bodied to be spliced into one continuous image, they were able-bodied to work on one continuous 3D print.

Otzi 1 copyright Materialise

[Photo: Courtesy of Materialise]

If you’ve done any 3D printing, and idea it took a little while for your piece to finish—imagine waiting a full three days. That’s how long it took for Ötzi to be reborn as Materialise employed their huge SLA 3D printing device, enabling The Iceman to emerge of a vat of amber resin—and standing 5’5” tall.

“Materialise system-segmented all of the scan data, created a rad accurate print, and I was able-bodied to add the more details over the top of the print to turn it into an accurate, life-like replica of the original,” said Staab. “It was another rad 3D collaboration with Materialise and its team of engineers.”

After the application of paint to the 3D print, Staab began the intricate system of building the finishing touches that may allow Ötzi to become awe-inspiringly life-life, and just about identical to the real mummy locked away in his contemporary freezing tomb.

“There’s not one centimeter of this thing that is not complicated,” noted Staab as he began working on the 3D print, that required months of work to complete the desired effect—involving sculpting, molding, painting, and crafting.

“It is going to be really hard,” he said surveying the print additional, embarking on matching skin, color, texture—and actually replicating the mummy’s really sizeable collection of bodily tattoos. Ötzi has 61 tattoos, in fact, of all that have been catalogued, and are a study of their own as there is no other mummy in existence with so many tattoos.

Otzi 3 (c) DNA Learning center, NY

The 3D printed replica, on display at the DNA Learning Center, NY [Photo: Courtesy of Materialise]

It bears bringing a moment to soak in the gravity of what 3D printing has been able-bodied to do in revealing us the intricate more details of this ancient man—and not only that, it’s deeply absorbing to see how innovation that yet appears as if it belongs in the next has come to bring us in touch with the deep, deep past via an ancestor of the European Bronze Age.

“We are proud that our 3D medical modeling innovation may manufacture a contribution to a greater belief of the Iceman and his times,” said Brian Crutchfield, Managing Director of Materialise, USA. “That our medical printing innovation is so high end yet flexible adequate to be modified
to such significant scientific and historic study is truly reflective of our team’s emphasis on research and value for its healthcare customers.”

Once Staab had finished his painsbringing work, he invited Albert Zink, PhD, Head of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman, to come and take a appear at the finished product. It was really an emotional scene, with a really nervous Staab revealing off his work and Zink’s reaction, that was one of just about speechless awe. Seeing the 3D print in system of beginning to the end, and in really a momentous evaluation, is a rad journey, and we highly recommend you view the show if you didn’t see it when it aired. As the experts point out, who understands, this famous Ice Man may in fact be one of your really distant relatives! Discuss this awe-inspiring system in the 3D Printed Ice Man forum over at 3DPB.com.


Delireally of the 3D print, preceding finishing