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Smithsonian Now Offers 3D Printing on Popular Exhibits

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What do Amelia Earhart’s flight suit, a remnant of a supernova, and Abraham Lincoln’s face have in common? You can now have your own life-sized replica of each. If you happen to possess an enormous, 3D-printer, that is.

As part of the Smithsonian Institute’s efforts to preserve its assets, which include more than 137 million objects ranging from fine art to fossils, an ambitious digitization project has begun.

Currently, only 1 percent of the Smithsonian’s collection is on display in its exhibition. Creating 3D, digital replicas of these objects in their online gallery—as well as the remaining 99 percent—will allow the entire world unprecedented access to the institute’s treasures. 

The project, known as Smithsonian X 3D, has a noble mission to preserve the world’s heritage and spread knowledge. But allowing people to print replicas from the digitized collection is certainly a fun perk. Everyone, from your baby brother to New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix editors, is going to want to get their hands on a scale model of the Woolly Mammoth. 

And with MakerBot pushing for its 3D-printers to be in every classroom across the country, it won’t be long before we can all print a copy of the Wright Brothers' 1903 Flyer.

All we’re saying is—can we have one?

Melanie Lieberman is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo credit: Smithsonian Institution

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