Client: Konica Minolta for Boomtown Internet Group


Forgery Thieves Turning to 3D Scanners

In late December, reported on an unfortunate trend in the world of sculpture: unscrupulous criminals are using the highly advanced technology in 3D scanners to create perfect replicas of real and rare pieces made from scratch by real artists.

For decades there has been the problem of counterfeit knock-offs of designer clothing, handbags, shoes and the like, because it’s fairly easy for someone to duplicate them. With sculptures, duplication requires that one be, well, a sculptor.

Or be armed with 3D scanning technology.

A variety of stores sell 3D scanner knock-offs

The Reuters report says that a slew of knock-off statues and figurines are showing up for sale in many different types of stores and are often commanding high-end prices. In America, artists who create fine sculptures are losing money in sales and spending money on attorneys in hopes of stopping the growing problem. They’re not meeting with much success.

In legitimate industries, 3D scanners are used in design, replicating, reverse engineering and other projects where a precise digital duplication of an object is required. The 3D scanning process involves “reading” all angles and surfaces of the object with convenient and easy-to-use instruments. This technology makes it the perfect tool of choice for sculpture forgers.

It seems that even the FBI is no match for the abilities of criminals armed with a 3D scanner. In the Reuters piece, the FBI Art Crime Team’s founder, now retired, called the problem “significant” and said the annual take worldwide for sales of fake sculptures and other figures is $6 billion.

3D scanning turns years into days

With a perfect 3D scanning blueprint to work from, forgers are able to perfectly re-create in days sculpted designs that may have taken the original artists years to create, using talent that’s taken a lifetime to develop. That means for every one real 1960 “Flag” collage by Jasper Johns, there could hundreds – or thousands – of fake ones circulating. According to Reuters, the majority of 3D scanning forgeries come from foundries overseas – China and Thailand were named – which “appear to be outside the reach of the law.”

It’s sad that great technology is being used for illegal purposes, but we believe law enforcement will eventually find the way to put a stop to it. If you’re a designer or manufacturer and would like to know about all the legal uses of 3D scanning, Konica Minolta would be happy to tell you. Just visit our website, or call us at (888) 473-2656.

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