BBC Click Dan Simmons Chinese funeral 3D printer Shanghai Longhua funeral home
BBC reporter Dan Simmons shows off technician’s face created using a 3D printer.

Chinese funerals are open casket to give loved ones a chance for a face-to-face farewell. Unfortunately, the tragic Tianjin explosions left more than hundred bodies unrecognizable. Traditional wax modelers were unable to sculpt all the faces in time for their funerals.

Shanghai Longhua funeral home was able to cut the wait time for prosthetic faces from weeks to hours with the use of 3D printers. With just one good photo they can recreate a face with 95% accuracy. Thousands of Chinese faces are being scanned into a database to further speed up the software, which was based on Caucasians faces that have a different bone structure than Asian faces.

3D printers create even faces better than the real thing

The basic service costs approximately $750 but they offer an optional facelift package explains Dr. Xu Ren Xiang, president of Shanghai Xuanlin Information Technology.

“We are trying to make a person, who say died at the age of seventy, look the way he did on his wedding day when he was perhaps in his thirties,” Dr. Xiang told BBC’s Click.

Looks aren’t everything. Senior Engineer Liu Fengming wants mourners to be able to literally talk to the dead.

“In the future, we’re looking to make the 3D printed head be able to talk at his own funeral using voice analysis. To speak his last words to his descendants. And even plant the deceased head on his tomb so he can speak to his family from the grave when they come to visit him,” Fengming envisions.