The possibilities are endless with rapid prototyping technologies.
Aside from functional tools, injection moulds, blow moulds and highly accurate parts, FDM is also suitable for building lifesize replicas, like the model of Thomas Jefferson recently created for the Smithsonian.
The Smithsonian was putting together an exhibition for the National Museum of African American History called Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello: Paradox of Liberty.
They would obvioulsy have loved to use the statue on permanent display at Monticello, the Thomas Jefferson Museum in Virginia — but that was not practical or possible.
Instead of using traditional modeling techniques such as rubber molding and casting, the statue was instead scanned and built in three sections (four parts) using FDM technology and materials. The full scale replica was then finished and painted to look like the original bronze statue.
Not only is this an excellent example of rapid prototyping technology and the possibilities of this growing industry, it also opens up a whole new way for people to experience some amazing objects in a museum or gallery which they may otherwise never have the opportunity to see.
FDM parts and prototypes are durable and accurate — minimising the risk of damage during transport.
Already popular with medical models, architectural models and teaching aids, a new era of model making has arrived, and with it, new opportunities.
Well done Redeye On Demand and the Smithsonian.