Using 3D Printing to Repair Rodin’s Thinker
In 2007, the Singer Laren Museum in the Netherlands, where The Thinker resided, was burglarized. The meatheads who broke in did so not to steal the art, but to steal the metal. They made off with seven sculptures and started to try to chop them up to sell for scrap.
Six of the sculptures were utterly destroyed but a badly damaged Thinker was recovered.
Quite aside from its artistic merit, it is worth, on the open market, up to $10 million. So the Singer Laren needed to figure out how to deal with the butchered figure. iMaterialise had an idea.
They did a CT scan of the damaged figure. Then they scanned the original mold retained by the Musee Rodin in Paris. They printed out a full-sized copy from the original on their Mammoth 3D printer.
The Mammoth uses a photopolymer resin to form the product in sections about six feet in length. The CT scans are imported and rendered using Materialise’s software. Lasers guide the shape, laying down thin sheets until they build up into the figure. A modeler finishes, adding texture and color.
The conservators at the Singer Laren have used that and the scans of the original to re-fabricate and lay in the missing and damaged parts of the statue.
The remade Thinker is on display at an exhibit at the Singer Laren called The Thinker Thinks Again through May.
First photo copyright by Kees Haageman | second photo copyright by Paul Kramer