Michelangelo was born 541 years ago the week of March 6, and in his 89 years, he created some of the most beautiful works of art of its kind. From sculptures like Pietà and David to the painted ceilings of the Sistine Chapel.

Michelangelo is recognized by many as one of the greatest artists to live and a great deal of effort has gone into preserving his work, as well as replicating it. Since Michelangelo’s death, his paintings, statues, and architecture have been copied in some form or another. When the Welborn family of Renaissance Masters obtained permission in 2014 through a declaration by The House of Michelangelo, Casa Buonarroti Foundation, and the official foundry of Vatican City to reproduce 28 sculptures, the art liaisons wanted to capture Michelangelo’s artistry in a historic way.

Not long after, 3D scanning experts Scansite got involved, bringing in 3D printing from FATHOM and metal casting from Artworks Foundry. Together in 2015, the teams went from 3D scanning the statues to 3D printing scaled models to making bronze replicas using the lost wax casting method. The results available in 2016 from this collaboration have transformed the ancient artistry of metalworking as we know it.

From 3D printed model (top left) to wax mold (bottom left) to the bronze statue (right)

1st step: Scansite team scans the statue and converts point cloud data into a digital model

2nd step: FATHOM analyzes the digital model, determines the optimal 3D printing technology, material, and orientation

After that, 3D prints model on an Objet500 Connex 3D printer (PolyJet in VeroBlue).

3rd step: Artworks Foundry takes FATHOM’s 3D printed model and creates a negative rubber mold to create a wax model for metal casting

4th step: Bronze ingots are melted in a furnace at 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit, then poured into the shell, melting away the wax, creating a bronze model

Bacchus by Michelangelo was created using the same process from 3D scanning to 3D printing to lost wax casting

Scansite team 3D scanning Moses by Michelangelo for FATHOM to 3D print

3D printed Moses by Michelangelo from 3D scanning data by Scansite

3D printed Madonna of the Stairs by Michelangelo from 3D scanning data by Scansite (left) and final version in bronze (right)