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Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence


Michelangelo’s David Reproduced Using Hexagon Scanning Technology Unveiled in Dubai

The art piece takes its place in the Theatre of Memory at Italian Pavilion at Expo Dubai

Published: Monday, June 28, 2021 - 12:02

A 3D-printed replica of Michelangelo’s famous David sculpture, reproduced with the use of scanning technology by Hexagon, was unveiled during a ceremony at the Italy Pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai.

The event was attended by the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Luigi Di Maio; the United Arab Emirates’ Minister of State for Tolerance, Ahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan; the Minister of State for International Cooperation and Managing Director for Expo 2020 Dubai, Reem Al Hashimy; and the Minister for Culture and Youth, Noura Al Kaabi. The so-called “David Twin” will be the centerpiece of the Pavilion’s Theatre of Memory.

The project to create the replica posed numerous challenges, not least due to the scale of the original, which stands at more than 17 m tall and weighs more than 5 tons.

Scanning this iconic sculpture took two people 10 days to complete. Two Hexagon technologies, an AICON StereoScan neo structured light scanner and a Leica Absolute Tracker with handheld scanner, were used to ensure optimum accuracy while managing the scale of the challenge.

The mix of these two technologies was critical to achieve the best result; the laser tracker, which is typically used to measure precision aerospace components, is able to give high accuracy across large areas, and the structured light scanner is able to achieve even higher resolution when focused on small areas. This instrument was used for the particularly detailed elements of the sculpture such as the face and hands. By combining these technologies, the team was able to achieve the optimum compromise of scale and resolution.

Nevertheless, there were a number of additional challenges to overcome. For example, an 80 cm distance was required between the scanner and the statue to achieve optimum detail. This was particularly tricky when trying to capture intricate parts. Additionally, given the height of the David, the scanners had to be mounted on a stair and raised, after which the team would analyze the picture to check for resolutions and accuracy, and repeat if necessary.

Following the digital twin’s appearance at the Expo, it will be analyzed to derive additional insights. The extraordinary detail of the data reveal, for example, the effects of acid rain, dust, and even traces of the different tools used to create it. This information can be used by experts and restorers to preserve the David, and other iconic art pieces, by anticipating and preventing degradation.

It’s also recognized that there may be opportunities for future, more accurate scans of the David and other iconic art pieces. This latest project follows a similar one completed by Stanford University in 1999, which took one month and 22 people to achieve a lower-resolution scan. As technology advances, it’s hoped that an even higher level of detail can be achieved.

“Scanning the David presented a number of challenges,” says Cesare Cassani, automation technologies and portable systems manager at Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division. “Not only was the scale enormous, but the time constraints were also tight, and we had to overcome a number of obstacles as we went along. Specific parts such as the inside of the hands, and underneath the bent arm, for example, proved particularly challenging, as well as capturing all the dents and imperfections that the David has incurred over the years.”

Levio Valetti, marketing and communications manager at Hexagon Commercial Operations in Italy, concurs. “The opportunity of being part of the team who has worked at this project is not only a high recognition of Hexagon’s technology and expertise in digital transformation, it is also for us a matter of pride in contributing to the scientific research and to the disclosure of culture and art throughout the world,” says Valetti.

The reproduction of Michelangelo’s David is a project jointly promoted by the Italian General Commissioner’s Office for Expo 2020 Dubai, the Galleria dell’Accademia Museum of Florence, and the Ministry of Culture in partnership with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Florence.

For more information visit Italy’s Expo 2020 site here.


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Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence

Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence helps industrial manufacturers develop the disruptive technologies of today and the life-changing products of tomorrow. As a leading metrology and manufacturing solution specialist, our expertise in sensing, thinking and acting – the collection, analysis and active use of measurement data – gives our customers the confidence to increase production speed and accelerate productivity while enhancing product quality.

Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence is part of Hexagon, a leading global provider of information technologies that drive quality and productivity across geospatial and industrial enterprise applications.