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March 31, 2016

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Funeral parlor embraces 3D printing

A 3D-printing studio was set up at the Longhua Funeral Parlor in Xuhui District yesterday to repair bodies damaged in accidents, fires and natural disasters.

“It is difficult for relatives to see incomplete faces or bodies of their loved ones when they attend memorial services, and makeup cannot always sufficiently repair them,” said Liu Fengming, an official with the Shanghai Funeral and Interment Service Center, which is affiliated with the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.

The 3D-printing technology can be used to restore the appearance of bodies with about a 95 percent success rate in about a week, Liu said.

After the explosion at Tianjin Port in August last year, the center sent experts to help repair the faces of firefighters killed in the blast.

The 3D-printing technology can also be used to make loved ones appear younger or better looking before they are interred, said Liu, who added that partial repair costs less than 10,000 yuan.

Last year, 129,000 people died in the city, and the figure has been rising for five consecutive years, which means many cemeteries suffer from a serious shortage of space.

The problem has inspired a unique solution at Yishan Funeral Parlor in Minhang District.

The bereaved are being offered the option of turning their loved one’s cremation ashes into jewelry.

The high-temperature process transforms ashes into about 100 “life crystals” that can be made into jewelry or other objects.

The service, which costs 17,900 yuan (US$2,770), is expected to be launched at other funeral parlors in the city if it proves to be popular.

“I will keep the [life crystals] of my family members in a flowerbed at home, which will make me feel they are still with me,” said Zhou Fei, a local resident in her 20s.

Middle-aged people are more reluctant.

“It is too new a concept for me and my parents, and traditional burial is more acceptable to us,” said Chen Hong, a woman in her 50s.


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