10 Ways 3-D Printing Could Change the World

Replicas of Famous Artworks
This bust was created by a 3-D printer. Can a replication of Michelangelo's "David" be far behind? John B. Carnett/Bonnier Corporation via Getty Images

Southern California artist Cosmo Wenman has used a 3-D printer to make meticulously rendered copies of famous sculptures, based upon plans fashioned from hundreds of photographs that he snaps from every angle. One example: He's reproduced "Head of a Horse of Selene," a classical Greek sculpture that once resided in the Parthenon and now is in the British Museum, by printing dozens of pieces of plastic, gluing them together and painting them to simulate the marble original. Wenman has confined his efforts to reproducing works from antiquity, so that he won't be restricted by copyrights.

Eventually, 3-D reproductions could enable museums such as the Smithsonian Institution, which only exhibits about 2 percent of its 14 million-piece collection at any given time, to digitize artwork and make copies available to people all over the world who might otherwise never see them [source: Carone].