Login

The Smithsonian is now sharing 3D scans of artifacts with the public

Smithsonian X 3D Explorer Scan

The Smithsonian is taking the next step in sharing its massive collection with the public. Today marks the release of the Smithsonian X 3D Explorer, a tool that will eventually allow students, educators, and laypeople to interact with 3D models of the museum's 137 million artifacts. The tool will also let users 3D print scale models of artifacts (including fossils and the Wright Brothers' aircraft) that could otherwise never be touched.

The Smithsonian began archiving its collection in 3D back in February, and has since scanned 20 items in its collection. The museum has already scanned virtual models of the USS Philadelphia, one of the few gunboats used during the Revolutionary War, and the fossilized remains of a wooly mammoth. Vince Rossi, 3D digitization coordinator with the Smithsonian Institution, told Smithsonian Magazine Blog that scanning the mammoth was "challenging not only because of its size, but also its complexity" — scans had to be captured from 60 different vantage points to capture every bone and angle.

A reason for 3D printing in the classroom

While the models available to the public right now are only a tiny fraction of the museum's artifacts, the Smithsonian intends for a few dozen to be scanned each year. And with MakerBot pushing hard for every American classroom to be fitted with its own 3D printer as part of its MakerBot Academy initiative, students may soon have the chance to build their own 3D models of history's most treasured artifacts.

The Verge
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.