Using 3-D printing and scanning to archive its collection, the Smithsonian Institute announced Wednesday the release of the Smithsonian X 3D Explorer, a tool that will make approximately 137 million artifacts more accessible to school, researchers and the public.
With only 1 percent of its collection currently on display in its museum galleries, the Smithsonian hopes that the high-resolution, 3-D models of its artifacts are printed and housed in classrooms and exhibits. Otherwise, its growing digital archive, including 3-D renderings of the Wright Brothers’ first airplane, a Revolutionary gunboat and a woolly mammoth fossil, is available to view online. So far, 20 objects have been scanned.
“The next step is going big — scanning hundreds or thousands of objects per year, instead of a few dozen,” 3D digitization coordinator Vince Rossi said to Smithsonian.com.
The Associated Press reports that the Smithsonian plans on eventually digitizing 13 million objects in 2-D or 3-D, which will take a while.
3-D scanning and printing experts gathered Wednesday for the Smithsonian X 3D Conference. The event, which continues Thursday, will be live streamed below.