3D Printing Of the Bone Fragments
After scanning and virtually imaging the bone fragments and ampulla in the Jamestown reliquary, we thought, wouldn’t it be great if you could hold them in your hand, if you could touch history? We decided to make that happen through 3D printing.
Over the past 30 years, the use of 3D printing has exploded to the point where almost anything can be printed inexpensively with realistic quality. We knew the technology offered a great opportunity for Jamestown Rediscovery. 3D model computer files of the bone fragments and ampulla were made in Simpleware ScanIP software and developed into STL files (common files that are easily understood by 3D printers). These specific models were then sent for printing on a Stratasys Objet 30 printer and made to actual size (Figure 1. Left). Once printed, the replicas were forwarded to the Jamestown Rediscovery team, who made them even more life-like by painting them bone color (Figure 1. Right).
It is amazing to think that approximately 40 years ago this work of micro-CT imaging and 3D printing was the realm of science fiction. Now, technology has given us the ability to see and touch realistic replicas of the contents of the Jamestown reliquary without ever having to physically open it. More importantly, it has given us insight into a significant artifact from historic Jamestown.
Figure 1. 3D printed models of the bone fragments and ampulla (Left) and after coloring by Jamestown Rediscovery (Right)