3D printing produces a perfect replica of a sixth-century sword
by Michelle Starr
A damaged sixth-century sword in a museum in Norway has been perfectly reproduced as new through 3D printing.
After hundreds of years as a great power, the Roman Empire finally crumbled, seeing its final days in the fifth century. Of course, the destruction of something so vast could only be achieved by a perfect storm of exacerbating factors – but one of the largest was the Germanic unrest. For centuries, the Germanic people had been revolting against Rome, and the pressure finally proved too much to bear.
During the final years and after the fall of Rome followed a period of migration across Europe, as first the Germanic and then the Slavic tribes packed up and made homes in new lands. It is during this Migration Period that a new type of sword emerged – a sort of halfway point between the Roman spatha, from which it had evolved, and the Viking sword, into which it would evolve.
Museums, of course, have some of these swords: greatly dilapidated, in many cases, but valuable artefacts of the time. However, the age and fragility means that although visitors can see the swords, they cannot touch them – cannot feel how the swords weighed and moved.
It is for this reason that the National Museum of Art in Norway approached Nils Anderssen, a game developer and school teacher with a passion for re-creating historical artefacts in his spare time. The museum is in possession of a particularly fine sword – a golden-hilted ring-sword, probably used only by kings and nobles. The ring affixed to the hilt is believed to be the symbol of an oath.
The instruction that the museum gave Anderssen was that the sword should look and feel exactly like the original would have done when it was new. This would allow museum visitors to have hands-on time with the sword, as a complement to admiring the relic safe in its glass case.
Anderssen has no experience in blacksmithing or goldsmithing, but he does know his way around 3D-modelling software – namely 3D Studio Max.
HERE HE IS wonderful Mother 3 fans. Negative Man. This poor guy, oh this poor guy. I just want to do him a solid and end it all.
This turned out so much better than I thought it would. Usually I imagine what I’m going to model before I do it and have crazy unrealistic expectations, but with this one I thought it wasn’t gonna look good at all, let alone animate well, but I really surprised myself. I added an actual Biped rig to him this time and not a bones rig, and I really thought it would take hours tweaking him. But there was literally no envelope tweaking whatsoever. I had to make his limbs longer and thinner but no tedious envelope editing. And animating the mesh worked well enough too!