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3D Printers Produce the Next Rembrandt

In a recent post, I mentioned the major disruptors that are afoot in the architecture, engineering and construction industry. I presented them recently to a subcontractor group and illustrated ways that these disruptors would reshape the AEC business that we have known for our entire careers.

One of those disruptors that I mentioned was the 3D printer. The example I used was in China where the contractors printed houses, 10 of them built in 24 hours, as a prototype for potential housing for the thousands of Chinese moving from the countryside into the cities.

Disruptors for certain. According to a recent article in fastcodesign.com, there is an incredible project in the art world that is an experiment that produced tremendous results, one that was unexpected except in the minds of some “techies,” coders and artists. The product of this collaboration may someday hang alongside the Rembrandt originals in museums around the world.

Rembrandt (1606-1669) was one of the most gifted and prolific painters of the Renaissance. He specialized in portraits and many of them hang in museums around the world. In a recent auction, one of his small works sold for almost $900,000. Recently a team of specialists set out to analyze his paintings and by using that algorithmic analysis and 3D printers, set a goal to see whether they could paint the “next Rembrandt portrait.”

The teams scanned 300 of Rembrandt’s paintings to capture every dimension, color and brush stroke that the master had painted in his portraits. They then developed the algorithm, coded and programmed the 3D printer, and produced layer by layer, a portrait that could be one that Rembrandt might have painted next in his career.

The possibilities for the use of 3D printers and big data have artistic applications as well as construction applications.