Made with 3D scanning and 3D printing, a replica of Ezra Cornell’s telegraph machine from 1844 goes on display at Cornell University Library.
In the history of communications, American businessman and philanthropist Ezra Cornell played a significant role. In 1844, his personal telegraph machine received the world’s first telegraph message sent by Samuel Morse.
Moreover, a working replica of the telegraph, created in 2009 by a group of engineering students, has become an important historical item in its own right.
That was made using Solid Freeform Fabrication (SFF), a family of manufacturing processes that create three-dimensional objects by depositing layers of material, to produce a working replica of Samuel Morse’s original telegraph receiver.
Both telegraphs are considered too valuable and fragile to display at the new Martin Y. Tang Welcome Center at Cornell University Library. So staff did the next best thing and 3D printed a new model.
“Cornell was about being innovative when it was founded, and the 3D model shows how Cornell continues to be an innovator and a leader. It’s the perfect balance between old and new,” said University Archivist Evan Earle.
Peter Corina, reference specialist and reproductions coordinator in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, volunteered to create a new model of the telegraph for the welcome center using the library’s makerspace.
The new reproduction of the telegraph took 10 straight days to print in mannUfactory, in Mann Library. James McKee, Mann’s makerspace coordinator, helped Corina develop a plan to print the telegraph in three separate parts.
Once completed, the new version mirrored the 1844 telegraph down to each individual screw.
“It’s to scale, as close as I could get it with hundreds of iPhone pictures and a ruler,” Corina said.
And what were the contents of the world’s very first telegraph message, sent by Samuel Morse on May 24, 1844?
“What hath God wrought,” Morse had written. Quite.
Source: Cornell University
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