3d printing

New Oscars statuettes get a retro makeover with 3D-printing

By Kitty Knowles 17 February 2016
Oscar statue gets a retro makeover with 3D printing. Pic: Oscars website.

Oscars statue: This year will see 3D-printing play a vital role in a revamp of the film academy's iconic awards.

With nominees including Leonardo Di Caprio and Jennifer Lawrence, the faces gracing this years Oscars may be familiar, but one rather popular figure will be sporting a new retro look.

This year, the iconic golden Oscar statuettes handed to winners at the Academy Awards will be cast in the shape of an original award from 1929, but will have been made using the most modern of technologies.

Last night, the film academy announced that a New York foundry has restored the traditional features using digital scans and 3D printers, and described the process as a “return to the Oscar’s fine art roots”.

“With the help of some 21st century technology, we’re able to honour the Oscar’s proud beginnings,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

“The new statuette exemplifies impeccable craftsmanship and the enduring nature of art.”

The new Oscar will still be plated in 24-karat gold and it’s dimensions remain the same at 13 ½-inches tall and a weight of 8 ½ pounds. Indeed the only real differences will lie in the “restored subtle features of George Stanley’s original sculpture”, which was based on sketches by MGM art director Cedric Gibbons.

It took Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry three months to make the 50 statuettes needed for this month’s upcoming ceremony. The firm first created digital scans of the 1929 statuette and then created 3D-printed moulds so the statues could be cast in wax. Each wax statuette was then coated in a ceramic and fired at 1,600°F to melt the wax away and leave an empty Oscar-shaped form. This was then cast in liquid bronze, plated in gold, and finally, hand-buffed.

“With this project, we’ve been entrusted with continuing a great tradition,” said Dick Polich, Polich Tallix founder and CEO.  “It’s a privilege to be able to bring our art experience and technical expertise to the Oscar.”

We’re not ones to stand in the way of innovation, but you can’t help but feel a bit bad for the old Oscar-makers. The golden figures had previously been made in a more traditional way by Chicago’s R.S. Owens & Company for the past 34 years.

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