George Washington once said, "Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages."
It was in that light that Todd Blatt organized the effort to 3D print a 32 inch by 32 inch statue of the United States' first president.
True to America's democratic nature, however, Blatt did not do it alone. He enlisted the help of over 70 makers from around the world through the wethebuilders Web site. Together they printed 110 separate pieces that, when fit together, resemble an exact 1:1 scale replica of the bust that sits in the Washington Monument.
The makers applied to be included and were sent an .STL file. When they printed a piece and mailed it to Blatt in Baltimore, they could ask for another piece, if they so chose. Each piece is about 4.3 inches cubed.
"Everybody knows 3D printing can keep printing small things, but everybody forgets we can print large things too," Blatt said. "What comes off the printer may not necessarily be all of it. I guess everybody is used to 2D printers, where you hit the print button and the finished product comes out."
The original bust of the American Cincinnatus, currently on display at Walters Art Museum while the monument undergoes renovations, is roughly 3,000 pounds of marble. However, Blatt and friends' "George Crowdsourcington" statue is about 28 pounds of plastic.
Makers had their choice of using ABS or PLA in any color they wanted. Blatt glued them together but did not paint them uniformly.
"It's kind of neat showing all the different colors and all the different pieces," Blatt said.
San Francisco Bay area attorney and 3D printing enthusiast Jay Shergill printed two pieces for the statue in clear PLA, probably a piece of the back and some hair, but he's not sure.
"I was attracted to the project because the people involved are always doing amazing things," Shergill said. "They're at the forefront of the 3D design, scanning, and printing movement. This is way my way to help out and get involved. I also loved the idea of a dozen operators around the world coming together to solve a problem."
The Direct Dimensions company used professional-level equipment to scan the original statue, and the file was then manipulated in netfabb, ZBrush and MeshMixer.
Blatt estimates it took about 15 spools of plastic and 700 print hours to make "George Crowdsourcington." With so many people involved though, the whole process took less than three weeks.
The statue is going to be displayed in the Tinkerine booth at the SXSW festival in Austin March 7-16. 3D printer manufacturer Tinkerine Studio, Blatt's employer, will reimburse some of the makers $5 per part for shipping costs.
Blatt wants to travel around the country this summer displaying the statue at various festivals, fairs and expos before bringing it home and getting started on his next distributive manufacturing project.