3D printers can copy your loved one's head - as a cremation urn

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The 3D printer has been used in many surprising, strange ways, from “printing” cars to shoe burgers. The technology has even been used to create a three-dimensional replica of a fetus. Now, you can add cremation urns that possess the shape and features of your loved one’s head to that list. Yes, you read that correctly – cremation urns. Vermont-based Cremation Solutions now offers special customized, 3D printer-produced urns that can be made in “the image of your loved one or your favorite celebrity or hero, even President Obama,” according to the company’s website.

While traditional wooden or metal urns might be the gold standard for storing a loved one’s ashes, Cremation Solutions' new product promises a more memorable way to commemorate those who have passed away.

The company writes on its website that the “latest technology” is used to create the urns, building the closest likeness possible to the deceased using photographs and facial recognition software that “can transform your favorite two-dimensional image into a three-dimensional sculpture that captures the finest details.” To represent a loved one in the best possible light, the company offers to “erase blemishes” so that those who have passed “will look their best for all eternity.”

The urns come in two sizes – an 11-inch “full-size personal urn” that will hold all the ashes of an adult, as well as a “keepsake sized personal urn,” standing at 6 inches and only holding a portion of the remains. The urns aren’t cheap. The larger size is listed at $2,600, while the smaller version is priced at $600. Hair is not automatically included. That being said, the company can “digitally add hair” onto personal urns that depict those with short hair, while a wig can be added for those sporting a longer style.

While a strange use for 3D printing, the cremation urns represent the growing ubiquity of the three-dimensional technology. According to a 2013 Harvard Business Review article titled “3-D Printing Will Change the World,” the rise of 3D printing is leading to an emphasis on customization of goods to suit consumers’ specific needs and tastes.

For Cremations Solutions, customization is key. The company stresses on its website that not only can customers purchase these items for those who are long-since gone, but they can also customize urns for themselves. Planning on cremation down the line? The company’s website states that a customer can select a picture that shows him or her at the peak of youth.

“Whether you are planning your own funeral to take the burden off your family, or planning one after a death, these urns are a great way to hold onto a crisp and perfect image,” the product description reads. “They are the perfect way to secure and store the ashes of any loved one.”