Smithsonian Collection Offers Models You Can Print at Home

(engadget) The Smithsonian has launched the Smithsonian X 3D, a collection that not only includes a browser-based 3D viewer allowing users get up close with scanned objects, but also allows them to download the necessary files to print an actual model on a 3D printer at home.

For example, on the Wright Flyer aircraft from 1903, they have created hotspots to help explain its engine and wing design, and the user can rotate the object in all directions for a closer look. With the Lincoln masks, the 3D viewer allows the user to adjust lighting levels to see the aging of the president’s face over the course of the war. And a 3D scan of a Chinese Buddha statue allows the user to examine and unravel a story carved in its surface. a public service with a new online collection that’s just launched.

The data can also be downloaded, recreated with a 3D printer and used to help illustrate lessons in history, art and science in schools. With the cost of 3D scanning and printing equipment declining in recent years, museums find there’s a new opportunity for them to transform how they collect, curate and conserve artifacts and also how they educate. Three-dimensional models can help tell stories and create more engaging lessons, said Smithsonian digitization director Gunter Waibel.

3Ders.org reports the Smithsonian officials are working to raise $15 million going forward to move the 3D lab from a suburban warehouse in Maryland to a new innovation center planned for the National Mall. There, the public could see some of the latest 3D technology and even make their own 3D prints of museum objects in a “maker lab.”