A VIEW of the 3D-printed digital twin copy in Florence.—AFP
A VIEW of the 3D-printed digital twin copy in Florence.—AFP

ROME: Standing just as tall but weighing 10 times less, an exact replica of Michelangelo’s statue of David created using 3D printers is covered with marble dust in a workshop in Florence.

Italy has commissioned the copy of the Renaissance masterpiece, which lives in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, to represent the country at the Dubai Expo 2021 starting in October.

It was made by a team of technicians at Hexagon Italia, under the curatorship of the University of Florence, who produced a high-definition physical copy finished off by master restorers. There were major challenges, not least that the statue is huge, standing at 5.2 metres tall (17 feet).

It is also one of the world’s most famous sculptures, requiring close attention to detail. But unlike previous casts, the process has the benefit of being carried out without any risk of damage.

“We digitised the statue with optical instruments without ever touching it,” Levio Valetti, head of marketing at Hexagon Italia, said.

“It’s a much more accurate reproduction than those made in the past, including the casts.” The statue was sculpted between 1501 and 1504 from a single block of marble, depicting the Biblical hero David, who killed the giant Goliath with his sling.

It was scanned and the replica created out of acrylic resin. At 550 kilograms (1,200 pounds) including the base, it is 10 times lighter than the original.

The copy, which is due to arrive in Dubai later this month, was finished off by craftsmen and restorers, who applied marble dust for an authentic final effect. But some people say it will never stack up to the original David.

Published in Dawn, April 16th, 2021

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