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3D Printing of an 18th century French serpent

3D printing of an 18th century French church serpent

Bate Collection number 504


Over the last 18 months we have been working with Mark Witkowski of Imperial College, London.  Mark’s current interest is in 3D Printing and looking into the possibilities of developing designs of musical instruments.  

The instrument selected as the basic design was an anonymous French church serpent (Bate Collection 504).  The original instrument was not in particularly good condition but as a preliminary design it was a useful choice.  This gave Mark the opportunity of working with an instrument whereby the materials, method of construction and cardinal dimensions were clearly evident.  What we in the museum business describe as an “informative wreck.”


The initial process consisted of a complete examination of the dimensions of the instrument.  This was the basis of producing a data set, which could then be used to produce the Computer-Aided Design file.  This is the first step in producing the necessary digital files for ultimate use in the 3D printer.

We have now uploaded the necessary STL files, along with an instruction manual, which can be downloaded free of charge:

STL Serpent files

Instruction Manual for producing a 3D serpent