3D printing began in the 1980s but it didn’t gain much attention until recently. 3D printing is mostly limited to industrial use such as manufacturing, prototyping, etc. In addition to that, the cost of owning a 3D printer is very expensive. But come 2009, a 3D printing technology patent called “fused deposition modeling” or “FDM” expired and since then, the 3D printing market started to rise.
Several kinds of 3D printers surfaced and they started to become affordable. What once cost more than a hundred thousand dollars suddenly have its priced reduced by 90%. Today, you can even get a 3D printer for $400.
3D Printing as a Hobby
As the 3D printing industry continues to develop, the equipment and materials needed to get started in 3D printing become more affordable. As a result, thousands of 3D printing hobbyists rise each year and the numbers are rising.
3D printing hobbyists are often finding new things to print, possibly because they want to test the limits of the technology. In theory, there is no limit, you can print anything you want as long as your printer is capable of doing it and believe me, there are different kinds of 3D printer already available in the market and there is nothing that you can’t print if you have all of these different printers.
Of course, it means that you can also print replica of medieval swords. All you need is a 3D printer and the best type of filament for printing replica weapons, like metal filaments. If you are a newcomer in 3D printing, you need to know that metal filaments require a little bit more setup and tinkering.
If you want to be able to print replicas, especially of things like sword, knife, weapons, you’ll want to upgrade your 3D printing nozzle as metal filaments tend to wear them off quickly. You also need a strong and durable hotends that can withstand much higher temperature.
3D Printed Replica Medieval Sword
One of the most famous 3D printed medieval sword is a replica of a sixth-century sword from a museum in Norway. The 3D replication is perfect, it’s been copied perfectly as if it’s the real thing.
3D printing replicas are done by first, taking a picture of the original item in different perspectives, loading the images to a 3D modeling software, “tracing” the image using the 3D modeling software, polishing it up, preparing it for printing, and finally, 3D printing it. Intricate replicas can take a long time to finish, from replicating it inside the 3D modeling program, to actually printing it.
The steps we outlined above was similar to what Nils Anderssen, a game designer, teacher and someone who loves recreating historic artifacts through 3D modeling in his spare time, did in reproducing the 6th-century artifact.
Above is the hilt of the final product. You can see the intricate level of design and resolution. The kind of 3D printer and material they used in producing this level of accuracy and detail is an expensive one and is probably not yet available for home consumers. But with the speed of how technology develops nowadays, we can expect consumer-level printers that can produce that level of quality in about 5 years or so.
3D replication can also restore the artifact’s appearance in its former glory. The image below is the original sword.
It’s all worn out, but nothing still beats the look and feel of the original one. Combine the original one with the replica, you can get the best of both worlds and let your imagination go wild.
The replica intends to provide people an idea of how it looks like during its peak and complements the original one. Pair the 3D printed one with the original and those who want to see the sword will be able to completely visualize how the sword looked like in ancient history.
With the continuous improvement in the field of 3D printing, we might be able to see soon enough that most households have their own 3D printer at their disposal. Just like a regular printer, a 3D printer can be used to easily print stuff that you or your family needs such as replacement parts for your doorknob or a new phone case.
But perhaps the most important development in 3D printing technology is the ability to print organic or bioproducts like living tissues and even organs (although these are just prototypes) which can potentially make big changes to the world we live in.