Swedish engineering group Sandvik has unveiled the ‘Impossible Statue’, a piece of art designed by artificial intelligence (AI) that incorporate styles of five famous historical sculptors.
On display at Tekniska Museet, Sweden’s National Museum of Science and Technology, the artwork combines the styles of Michelangelo, Rodin, Kollwitz, Kotaro, and Savage, art masters who span three continents and 500 years.
The Impossible Statue, made from stainless steel, was made developed through an combination of AI modelling and the innovative manufacturing solutions.
Sandvik said the complexity and precision required to make the statue a reality put its digital manufacturing solutions and cutting tools to the test.
Peter Skogh, director at Tekniska Museet, said: “The Impossible Statue is a great example of what the combination of modern technology and human brilliance can create.
“Our mission is to create a broader understanding of the possibilities of technology and to stimulate the next generation to pursue a career within STEM topics.
“This project is ticking all the boxes for us, and I’m excited to offer our visitors the opportunity to see the statue.”
Making the Impossible Statue
The statue was designed by training multiple AI models on the work of five of the world’s greatest and most renowned sculptors, balancing some of their best-known attributes.
- The dynamic off-balance poses of Michelangelo (Italy, 1475-1564)
- The musculature and reflectiveness of Auguste Rodin (France, 1840-1917)
- The expressionist feeling of Käthe Kollwitz (Germany, 1867-1945)
- The focus on momentum and mass exhibited by Takamura Kotaro (Japan, 1883-1956)
- The defiance in the figures of Augusta Savage (USA, 1892-1962).
Following the creation of a 2D design bringing together the styles of these five artists, Sandvik undertook a process of translating this into a complete 3D image.
Using depth estimators to build an initial 3D model, human pose-estimators to refine the body, video game algorithms to generate realistic fabric, and specialised AI to re-introduce fine details that were lost in previous steps, Sandvik then turned the design into reality.
By using software from Mastercam, the most widely used CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) brand in the industry, a statue with over nine million polygons and complex details was created.
Sandvik’s says the manufacturing process was thoroughly tested in simulations before any material was cut.
The creation of the statue involved a team of experts in CAD (computer-aided design) modeling, CAM programming, and machining.
Forty-million lines of G-code were generated in the process; this was the code that guided the machining of the different parts in the CNC (computer numerical control) machines used for production.
Finally, advanced metrology software from Sandvik-owned Metrologic Group was used to verify the details of the statue.
The final statue weighs 500 kg and stands at 150 cm.
It deviates from the digital design by less than 30 microns (0.03 mm).
Nadine Crauwels, president at Sandvik Machining Solutions, said: “The manufacturing methods used to make the Impossible Statue are the same we use to create value for our customers every day.
“With our leading capabilities across digital solutions and physical manufacturing tools, we are in a great position to advance component manufacturing in key global industries, improving efficiency and sustainability by connecting all steps in the full manufacturing process.
“We decided to manufacture the Impossible Statue to showcase this, and by using all our capabilities we could significantly improve manufacturing efficiency, reduce waste, and ensure the highest quality in each step of the process.”
Image: Sandvik’s AI-designed ‘Impossible Statue’. Credit: Sandvik
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