3D printing at University of Richmond’s tribute to World War II veterans

Virginia Commonwealth University’s Virtual Curation Laboratory (VCL) has been live since 2011. Originally as a means of recording American Indian artifacts for research and preservation, the project was started by Dr. Bernard K. Means of the University’s anthropology department. 5 years later, the online library now collates a host of 3D scanned objects including excavated animal bones and, most recently, a Thanksgiving dinner. This December VCL will demonstrate its 3D scanning techniques, and display 3D printed WWII facsimiles at the University of Richmond’s tribute to World War II veterans on December 8.

In addition to historical objects, VCL have previously created digital models of war veterans. Pictured above is veteran Russell Scott scanned in 2014. Scott is also a volunteer at the Virginia War Memorial.

December 8, is of course the date which marks the 75th anniversary of America officially entering World War II, following the December 7 attack on Pearl Harbour.

Conservation of history

One such object that will likely be featured at the commemorative event is an American Bullet from Utah Beach landing site, June 1944’ when the D-Day landings took place. This was scanned in 2015 by teacher James Triesler of Clover Hill High School in Midlothian, Virginia, as an educational aid for his class who were creating a digital archive of World War II letters.

Above gif shows the scan of an American bullet from D-Day.

Another object of interest may be a World War II porcelain Japanese hand grenade from the Virginia War Memorial. The original grenade was created towards the end of WWII when metal supply in Japan had become scarce.

Gif above shows digital render of WWII porcelain hand grenade, created by Digital Curation Specialist Lauren Volkers at The Virginia War Memorial October 21, 2014.

Though grizzly in their reality, each object is an important piece of the world’s collective social history. 3D printed and digitally rendered replicas facilitate story-telling, reflection, and education, which is the most important part of any commemoration. Preserving heritage, while allowing future generations to understand and appreciate the context of these artifacts is also a valuable educational resource.

3D printing to help veterans and areas of destruction

In a related story that coincided with Veterans Day, 3DPI also looked at how 3D printing is being used to help more recent war vets at the University of Pittsburgh. 3DPI have also recently reported on how 3D scanning and printing have been used to preserve the Italian town of Amatrice that was destroyed by an earthquake earlier this year.

For those interested in attending the tribute day, you can register your attendance at the Virginia WWI & WWII Commemoration Commission here.

All moving gif images featured in this article are from the Virtual Curation Museum on wordpress.

Featured image shows the Virginia War Memorial shrine to lives lost in WWI & WWII. Photo via: