Apr 9, 2019

Chinese Undertakers Reconstruct Faces of Accident Victims With 3D Printing

A mortuary in Guangzhou, China is using 3D printing to rebuild the facial features of deceased accident victims before their families hold open casket funerals.

Under Chinese law, the dead have to be cremated. But before this happens, many families hold open casket funerals so that friends and relatives can pay their respects to their lost loved one.

However, for those who died in an accident causing them to be badly disfigured, the Guangzhou Funeral Service Centre is now using 3D printing to comfort the family.

The center handles around 35,000 bodies every year and around 30 of these require reconstruction work which undertakers previously did by hand. An embalmer, named Liu, told local newspaper Southern Daily that once, when reconstructing the features of someone who was killed in a road accident, his hands were shaking so badly he couldn’t hold the tools.

Liu adds: “We are not professional sculptors, we had only the deceased’s pictures to look at, and tried our best to make it look similar to the real person.”

By introducing 3D printing, the undertakers are able to more accurately rebuild faces. The technology is also speeding up the reconstruction process so relatives can hold a funeral just ten days after their loved one dies. This is a much shorter than period than the 30 days required to traditionally reconstruct a deceased’s features.

Using a 3D printed mask to model features (Source: Xinhua)

3D Printing Improves the Accuracy of Reconstructed Features

The 3D printing technique for reconstructing faces was introduced in April. First, the mortuary staff creates a plastic 3D model using photos with 12 million pixels or more.

After this model is printed, the undertakers use it to create a mask with silica gel which closely resembles the color and texture of human skin.

Next, some craftsmanship is required to ensure the face is represented accurately. Finally, once makeup and hair are complete the mask is placed on the deceased’s face.

Li Zhijian, the deputy director of the center, said that even though only 30 cases per year need 3D printing work, “every successful reconstruction is a great comfort to the family members, and it is also the best way to show respect for the deceased.”

For more on ways 3D printing is helping industries innovate, check out these stories:

Source: South China Morning Post

Reconstructed face made with 3D printing (Source: Xinhua)

License: The text of "Chinese Undertakers Reconstruct Faces of Accident Victims With 3D Printing" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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