Re-making history with 3D technology

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Students at Northern Illinois University’s Maker Space have made history, or rather, re-made history.

Using 3D printing, Mechanical Engineering students Matt McCoy of Downers Grove, Todd Durham of Genoa, and graduate Thomas Corbett of Genoa, partnered with the McHenry County Historical Society to design and print missing parts from artifacts in the historical society museum’s collection.

“Last fall I read an article about different ways museums are incorporating 3D printing and technology and I thought this was an interesting way to make the collection more available to the public,” said exhibits curator at the McHenry County Historical Society and Museum, Kira Stell. “We have partnered with NIU before so I reached out to Federico Sciammarella, the Associate Professor for Mechanical Engineering Students in the Maker’s Space Lab, in regards to donated objects that were missing parts or over time had been damaged.

"I told him I would like to replicate the missing pieces and put them on exhibit. We are trying to incorporate more technology in our exhibits and the way that we educate and interpret McHenry County History and this project fit nicely into that initiative.”

Located on the stage in the main exhibit hall, the six restored artifacts are on display and include a wooden rolling pin from 1920’s that had a missing handle, a sugar bowl from the 1870’s and one from 1898 that were missing lids, a small steel tack hammer from the 1930s that was missing the handle, and a Fisher Price Gabby Goofy pull toy from the 1960s that features a wooden mother duck with wooden baby ducks behind it, all of which were missing beaks. An entire tin candlestick holder from the 1830’s was fully replicated as part of the New Pioneer Exhibit.

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