Art History
Issue: Volume 40 Issue 3: (May/Jun 2017)

Art History

Stratasys, a 3D printing and additive manufacturing solutions company, has teamed up with Atlanta’s Millennium Gate Museum to resurrect one of the rarest pieces of art in Ancient Greece – thanks to the true-to-life realism of 3D printing technology.

Working alongside the 3DCenter at Kennesaw State University and backed by a Stratasys Fortus 900mc Production 3D Printer, the team unveiled a near-exact 3D printed replica of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – the Statue of Zeus at Olympia. This project represents one of the larger 3D printed classical works re-created via advanced fused deposition modeling (FDM).

Imagined by sculptor Phidias in 432 BC, the initial structure was designed on a wood frame with gold and ivory panels. Taking more than 12 years to construct, the ancient statue honored king of the Greek gods, Zeus. It was destroyed in a fire during the 5th century AD, and artists and historians have struggled to re-create its presence for modern times. With a unique ability to maximize production-grade thermoplastics to create strong, dimensionally stable, and accurate 3D printed parts, Stratasys FDM 3D printing technology was the impetus to overcome these challenges.

“Having the capacity to design and 3D print using highly durable materials with complex geometries and the highest levels of accuracy, museums can re-introduce some of history’s most treasured works,” says Sig Behrens, general manager of global education at Stratasys. “Teaming with Stratasys, institutions are completely transforming education and learning, as students and museum visitors are now able to grasp the power of forgotten classic art. 3D printing is the very impetus sparking a highly realistic learning experience, ensuring these essential pieces of history are never again forgotten.”

Art History

For massive re-creations like the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Fortus 900mc Production 3D Printer lets artists build large parts with an enhanced degree of speed and scale – up to three times faster than traditional 3D processes. With the durability of production-grade thermoplastics, museum creators were guaranteed the resulting statue was highly stable to remain intact during the most challenging environments.

Re-Introducing Classic Work

Additive manufacturing is making this rare statue available for the first time in several thousand years. Based on an initial image of the piece, designers translated the rendering into a CAD file using 3D modeling software. Actual production was achieved via an additive approach – laying successive material layers until the 3D print was complete.

The final replica stands at 6 feet tall.

“Throughout history, there are always instances where the most precious works of art get destroyed or broken. In the past, this disappearance meant items were lost forever. That’s why we’re so heavily invested in the artistic value of 3D printing,” says Jeremy Kobus, director of The Gate Museum. “Committed to working at the intersection of technology and art, we see the tremendous potential of 3D printing for educational applications. Teaming with Stratasys and KSU’s 3DCenter, our hope is to deliver creations far too few have even tried to attempt.”

The Statue of Zeus at Olympia was the centerpiece of the museum’s exhibit “The Games: Ancient Olympia to Atlanta to Rio,” which opened last summer.

To see how the statue was made, go to