“Printing” in Three Dimensions

The KMODDL team is using rapid-prototyping technology to reproduce physical models as 3D “prints” from digital files. The replicas are captured as stereolithography (STL) files, which can be exported for 3D printing in thermoplastic layers on a rapid-prototyping fabricator. STL files for several models are available at the KMODDL site, allowing users with access to rapid-prototyping equipment to download, 3D-print, and interact with their own fully functional physical replicas.

The STL files needed for 3D printing are linked from the relevant model pages (under “resources”). You can also browse the STL files by selecting the “multimedia” link from the right sidebar on the KMODDL homepage, or search by key word.

While today the audience for this part of the collection is limited, as rapid-prototyping becomes more commonly available, such forms of documentation will become increasingly prevalent. Meanwhile, this technology is already reproducing accurate historical kinematic models as tools for both teaching and artifact conservancy.