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3D printed skeleton of Richard III goes on display

28 July 2014

A 3D printed replica of King Richard III’s skeleton, created at Loughborough University, will go on show at the new King Richard III visitor centre in Leicester.

The University of Leicester announced in February last year that the skeleton found in 2012 in the city by its team of archaeologists was that of Richard III, whose final resting place remained hidden for hundreds of years.

Experts from Loughborough’s School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering were invited to make a replica of the king’s skeleton, using the latest 3D printing techniques.

Scans of the actual remains taken by the Leicester Royal Infirmary were sent to Loughborough, where they were transformed into a 3D computer model.  Laser sintering was then used to create a physical replica of the skeleton.

“Generating the first 3D computer models was a very exciting moment," says Professor Russell Harris, head of the University’s Additive Manufacturing Research Group who led Loughborough’s involvement in the project. "And later seeing the skull of Richard III emerge from the powder of the laser sintering machine in physical form was incredible.

“It was quite clear to see a number of the significant injuries that he had sustained in battle, and at last the greater story of how the King met his death can be told.  Recording various aspects of the remains, in both electronic and physical form, will be invaluable for future studies.

“Our 3D printing and additive manufacturing activities span a great number of disciplines but this was an exceptionally rewarding case to be involved in.  Working with Leicester on this incredible discovery has been a privilege, and it is great that two neighbouring universities have been able to share expertise to create a lasting legacy to Richard III.”

The new visitor centre is housed in the old Leicester Grammar School building at St Martin’s Place. There are two floors of exhibition space and a new covered area allowing visitors access to the original grave site in which Richard's remains were discovered in August 2012.

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