17th century watch with alarm and calendar recreated with 3D printing

first_imgThey just don’t make them like this anymore — without a 3D printer, that is. Researchers from Birmingham City University in the UK have used high-resolution scanners to recreate a number of historical objects set to go on display at the Museum of London later this year. The 3D printed objects include a watch made in the early 1600’s that had an alarm and calendar functions.It can be easy to forget with the technology we’re accustomed to, but the gilded brass Ferlite watch (named for its creator) was a huge technological achievement at the time. The level of detail that went into its design — including intricate floral designs in gold leaf on the face — made the Ferlite watch a much sought after item in the 17th century. Researchers are cheekily calling it “the iPod of its day.”Scientists fear some of the techniques used to build the Ferlite watch and other technological marvels from centuries past may be lost to us. With so few examples of an item, you can’t very well take it apart to see how it works. This was the impetus to use 3D printing to create replicas of the objects from the Museum of London exhibit. The team was able to remove the remaining enamel on the surface of the virtual watch to get a better look at its internals and construction.Visitors to the exhibit will be able to handle 3D printed replicas of the Ferlite watch, while the genuine article is kept safely out of reach. Researchers also plan to build more detailed replicas to better understand how it was built over 400 years ago.The exhibit containing the watch, and many other items found with it in 1912 will open up in October.last_img

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