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May 18, 2020 Beyond The Dash

No Limits: 3D Printed Urns Put Grieving Families in Control of Memorialization

Creating a unique urn in honor of one who has passed away

No Limits: 3D Printed Urns Put Grieving Families in Control of Memorialization
Many useful items can be created using 3D printers, including customized urns. (Getty Images)

Death rituals are getting more personal. In the last few decades, there has been a trend toward creating funerals and memorials that reflect the unique personality of the deceased. Where there used to be rigid expectations of what a funeral was supposed to be, now families are turning to more creative ways of saying goodbye. 


With the advent and mainstream popularity of 3D printers, families and urn creators are using these machines to craft custom urns in honor of loved ones who have passed.


Personalized urns 


Headstones, urns and permanent monuments have long been designed and adorned to reflect the life and personality of the person whose remains they honor. Personalized urns are more accessible than ever today, with many companies offering urns in a variety of themes, shapes, sizes, colors and materials. 


Another option is to purchase a customized urn. These can be purchased from artists or manufacturers who specialize in crafting custom urns, and may need to be commissioned on a case-by-case basis. 


How does 3D printing work?


3D printing is the "process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file." By creating layers upon layers of molten plastic (or other materials), people can make digital designs physical. Using 3D modeling software, designers can slice a digital design file into horizontal layers, feed them to a 3D printer, and create nearly anything. For example, 3D printing has made a significant impact on prosthetics. Using 3D printers, people have been able to create fitted prosthetic limbs and other accessibility tools, at a fraction of the cost of a conventional prosthetic. With modern 3D printers that use multi-jet technologies, the choice of colours is virtually limitless.


3D printers have been particularly useful in building prosthetics. (Getty Images)


3D printed urns offer families a new option for remains storage


Storing cremated remains in an urn is a common alternative to spreading them in a natural space. Choosing the urn that will house a loved one's remains is an emotional process, because that urn will act as the final place of rest. 


Families that have a specific idea for the urn may not be able to find exactly what they are looking for in funeral homes or online. That's why 3D printing of urns has gained traction in recent years. 


In Ghana, many people are buried in fantasy coffins, which reflect an interest or the profession of the deceased person in a fantastical, artisan-crafted casket. 3D printing makes the idea of fantasy urns a reality, allowing families to choose a specific, personal theme and aesthetic for their loved one's remains.


These urns can look like anything from a car, to an abstract art piece, to the deceased person. As long as the urn concept can be designed to safely store cremated remains with a tight seal, there is no limit on the possibilities.


How to get a 3D printed urn


3D printing makes the construction of an urn easy, but most people don't have access to a 3D printer, or the ability to design using 3D modeling software. For people who want a unique and affordable 3D printed urn, there are many companies who can accommodate them. 


Families will send in images or examples of the style of urn they want, and work with the manufacturer until the design is perfect. Often, 3D printed urns can be ready in four weeks if the design process is straightforward. 


Eturnal Memorials is one such company that offers custom 3D printed urns. View their gallery to see the unique urns their customers have created in honor of loved ones who have passed away. 


Honoring loved ones, your way


Loss, grief and memorialization are different for everyone. For some, the location and storage of remains is among the most important aspects when planning a final place of rest. Those wishing to retain cremated remains and display them in an urn now have more options than ever before. Customizing an urn to reflect the interests or personality of a deceased person can be a tribute to their life, and a reminder of what they held dear. 


Ultimately, a displayed urn must also reflect the values and aesthetics of the person who will keep it as well. By giving direct control of the design process to the family, 3D printed urns can help honor those who have passed and make the grieving process a little lighter.

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