The Nativity Scene Gets a 3D Printed Twist
The nativity scene is one of the most traditional symbols of Christmas across the world, and it has been reimagined this year! Italian startup Jirama has decided to innovate this most historic and religious symbol using additive manufacturing. The company has 3D printed a nativity scene which has now become part of Naples’ centuries-old nativity tradition, so much so that it is on display at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples during the exhibition “The Courtly Nativity. The Legacy of Charles III.”
Jirama is a young Neapolitan startup born in 2020 that conceives and develops innovative services and products. Its name, translated from Malagasy (the language of Madagascar) as “essence of spirit,” evokes its mission to understand and understand the possible applications of different materials and technologies. Its R&D team, in collaboration with the universities of the Campania Region of Italy and in particular with the departments of Mechanical and Management Engineering, studies new production models to develop re-engineering processes and business innovation in order to obtain advantages in terms of reduction of materials used, and therefore costs, without compensating on quality.
On the occasion of the nativity exhibition “The Courtly Nativity. The Legacy of Charles III” scheduled at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples (MANN) from Dec. 1 to Jan. 31, the startup has created a nativity scene entirely printed in 3D, called Presepe III.ZERO. A project, says Valentina Popolo, Reaserch & Development of New Technologies Jirama s.r.l., “created not to replace the great Neapolitan nativity classics of the centuries that preceded us, but to introduce a new era of production centered on 3D printing.”
The 3D Nativity Scene Printing Process: Tradition Meets Innovation
The crib was 3D printed with SLA technology using Formlabs Form 3L 3D printer, which offered the startup a large print volume and high detail accuracy. In addition, SLA technology, was preferred over FDM technology because it allows for a smooth surface and the ability to partially hollow out the pieces inside, saving resin. The material used in making the 3D printed crib is Grey Resin.
To create the nativity scene, Jirama’s model makers enlisted the help of a nativity worker, going on to digitally draw and sculpt each element: from the shepherds to the components of the environment. The scene, structured on a circular plan, is 80 cm in diameter and 60 cm high.
Each individually molded component then underwent post-processing, then removal of supports, as well as manual sandpapering to achieve as smooth and homogeneous a surface as possible. The finished parts were dipped back into the resin and manually painted with a brush and then fired again. This type of process allowed the startup to achieve a completely smooth and glossy surface over the element without going to add other types of products such as sprays or paints. Instead of being resurfaced in resin, the three elements of the nativity were instead hand-painted by an outside artist and collaborator, resulting in a result that is visually very similar to traditional nativity scenes.
A nice mix, then, of tradition and innovation that incredibly made it possible to create a new, unprecedented version of a great classic of Italian culture, even more than a thousand years after its invention. What other surprises will 3D printing technologies have in store for us in the future?
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All Photo Credits: Imageware/JIRAMA