Many are the challenges posed by the re-production of Michelangelo’s David, a project promoted by the Italian Commissioner’s Office at Expo 2020 Dubai, the Museum of the Galleria dell’Accademia of Florence and the Ministry of Culture in partnership with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Florence.
Let’s discover them together through the different phases of the project:
From Florence to Dubai
Digitalisation of Michelangelo's David
The project involves a team of technical experts and researchers from the world of academia and industry, coordinated by Professor Grazia Tucci in order to network the wide range of different specialist skills.
Digitization – the steps: Predisposing the data acquisition system | Data Acquisition | Data digitization | Data Processing | Data Analysis | Preparing the print files
The replica of Michelangelo’s masterpiece needs to overcome significant logistic and operational difficulties, such as the ones arising from the mere dimension of the work and the need to reproduce it in 3D. With a view to making a super-detailed digital re-production, instruments and methods specific to the world of industry were used through the involvement of Hexagon, which will collaborate with the group of geomatics engineers – as measurement and digitization experts are now called – from the University of Florence.
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Physical reproduction of Michelangelo’s David
Once completed the 3D data acquisition operations ahead of preparing a high-resolution digital twin is when the physical re-production of David begins.
A solid model will be made of Michelangelo’s masterpiece and will become the centrepiece in the exposition itinerary of the Italy Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai: the most sophisticated additive manufacturing instruments will make it possible to obtain a 3D print of the statue while Italian professionals of excellence in restoration will take care of the finishing with a view to producing a replica as similar as possible to the original, thus documenting the actual state of the statue today.
Layer after layer, materials amalgamate and harden under the effect of targeted radiations or filaments produced from recycled plastic material so as to not overlook the arduous task of protecting our fragile Planet, used to re-produce one of the most well-loved sculptures in the world.
The additive manufacturing technique does away with process scraps and the various parts, which derive from a complete engineering process, are assembled with special care in terms of resistance and safety.
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Photo by Massimo Sestini for @italyexpo2020
Finishing of Michelangelo's David
The digital era and 3D printing have inverted the process traditionally used to produce sculptures and replicas. Moulds and pantographs are supplanted by new methods still needing to be tested and evaluated. The David made for the Italy Pavilion at Expo Dubai is a first important step and a great challenge that intends to become a new starting point. Michelangelo’s David, the centrepiece of the Theatre of Memory at the heart of the Pavilion, needs to possess the aura and the cultural and aesthetic value of the original: it is a 3D document containing the signs of time and the anomalies of the material in order to bear witness to its history. What is staged here is the idea of beauty and of Renaissance harmony, a representation in which visitors can participate. This is why for two months Nicola Salvioli, an Italian expert in the field of the restoration of large sculptures, worked with his team to wrap the cast in a mixture of resin and Carrara marble powder in order to endow the sculpture with a “skin” that is instrumental to recreating the magic of emotional involvement and to characterise it by recording the most scientific aspects to “document” the heritage. After dozens of replicas, this is the first reproduction that aims to give a critical interpretation and not only a scenic representation.