3D printed replicas of 5000 year old Ötzi set to tour the US

Ötzi was an iceman that died 5,300 year ago and was discovered in 1991 when hiking by two hikers on Tyrolean Alpine peak in northern Italy. And not to let his body decompose any further he was immediately locked up in a freezer in Italy. But freezing him did pile up complications for his detailed study.  the paleo sculptor Gray Staab thus decided to 3D print medical-grade replicas for display and research teaming up with Materialise. The 3D printed replica is complete and all set to tour the US : one to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science, and two more will go to the Cold Spring Harbor DNA Learning Center in New York (DNALC). You can take a look of Staab's work on his website that features his historic works and other collection of projects.

When Ötzi was discovered hr became a media sensation overnight as he was one of its kind naturally preserved mummies ever found. Forensic research revealed that he was murdered with an arrow at the age of 45 at the top of a lonely mountain. His height is 1.6 meters (or 5’3”) and Weighs 50 kgs was found with clothing and equipment like copper axe and bow and arrows. His last meal consisted of version and ibex meat, and was infested with parasites. The discovery and research reveals quite a lot fact about the bronze-age life and the researchers still believe there is a lot more information about Ötzi to still be realized.

3D printed replicas

 It'll take much more efforts to inculcate further information. Although a number of caveman have just decomposed but Ötzi was miraculously preserved in a glacial ice cave. After his discovery he was locked in a frozen crypt in Bolzano, Italy, to prevent further contamination and decomposition.  Due to the limited research and educational opportunities the paleo sculptor was given the opportunity to make the medical grade sculptor for educational purposes.

To make a 3D model of the Ice Man's body ut was first scanned using a CT scan machine. As some of the body parts were missing Materialise's engineers filled in those parts like the ribs by mirroring other body parts.  The spooked person from the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology in Bolzano, Italy said, “The reconstruction of the hands was also a challenge, since they could not be captured on CT scans.” The replica was printed on the largest stereolithography printer from Materialise.

3D printed replicas

But this whole process wasn’t without its challenges either. “When I tried putting him back together from the scanned slices, the pieces didn’t seem to match,” recalled project engineer Eric Renteria. “So I did some research and found his total height and compared that to the total height of all the pieces I had reconstructed. Once I saw that there was a mismatch, I moved his head piece into the correct spatial location, which revealed that there was a gap missing.”

The final models were then completed by Staab and he further said, “Materialise process-segmented all of the scan data, made a fantastic accurate print, and I was able to add the details over the top of the print to turn it into an accurate, life-like replica of the original. It was another fantastic 3D collaboration with Materialise and its team of engineers."

The 3D printed models are all set for the tour while they are currently housed in the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology. The first 3D printed replica will be the part of the tour that will be across North America that will commence from North Carolina Museum of Natural Science in Raleigh in October 2017. The latter two models will be educational tools at he teh Cold Spring Harbor DNA Learning Center in New York ( DNALC ). There still will be many more facts about life, death and humanity that the ice man will reveal in the process of further research. 3D printing has proved to be a boon for scientists and will further prove to more frequently applied tools of modern technology.

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