ROME (AFP) - Standing just as tall but weighing 10 times less, an exact replica of Michelangelo's statue of David created using 3D printers is covered with marble dust in a workshop in Florence.
Italy has commissioned the copy of the Renaissance masterpiece, which lives in the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence, to represent the country at the Dubai Expo 2021 starting in October.
It was made by a team of technicians at Hexagon Italia, under the curatorship of the University of Florence, who produced a high-definition physical copy finished off by master restorers.
There were major challenges, not least that the statue is huge, standing at 5.2 m tall. It is also one of the world's most famous sculptures, requiring close attention to detail.
But unlike previous casts, the process has the benefit of being carried out without any risk of damage.
"We digitised the statue with optical instruments without ever touching it," Mr Levio Valetti, head of marketing at Hexagon Italia, told AFP.
"It's a much more accurate reproduction than those made in the past, including the casts."
The statue was sculpted between 1501 and 1504 from a single block of marble, depicting the Biblical hero David, who killed the giant Goliath with his sling.
It was scanned and the replica created out of acrylic resin. At 550kg, including the base, it is 10 times lighter than the original.
The copy, which is due to arrive in Dubai later this month, was finished off by craftsmen and restorers, who applied marble dust for an authentic final effect.
But some people say it will never stack up to the original David.
"No one can ever do that because no copy could capture the pathos of the original," Dr Cecilie Hollberg, the head of the Galleria dell'Accademia, told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
But she said the copy could be "its messenger, its technological, artistic and artisanal alter ego".