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Firm uses 3-D printers to create personal cremation urns

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You can now live inside an object "unique to you" for eternity thanks to a Minneapolis company's modern twist on cremation urns using 3-D printing.

Eden Prairie start-up Foreverence has found a niche use for 3-D printers by creating urns shaped like items important to the deceased, the Pioneer Press reports.

Seeking to avoid the tacky and gaudy urns offered by similar firms, the company asks customers to think of an item that represents them, before designing an eternal vessel "as unique as the life it represents," according to its website.

Requests so far have included urns in the shape of a guitar, a car, a piano, and a cowboy hat, as pictures on the firm's Facebook page show. They're made using ceramic material, rather than the plastic typically associated with 3-D printers.

"We want funeral directors to keep conversations focused on legacy," Foreverence CEO Pete Saari told the Pioneer Press. "What was important to the deceased? What was symbolic of a life, a dream, the pursuit of a passion?"

The firm's beginnings were anything but humble. The first urn they made was for Bob Casale – the guitarist for artrock band Devo – who passed away in February of this year.

Casale's family took Foreverence up on their offer to create a cremation urn shaped like the "Energy Dome" terraced hats made famous by the band.

The company only offers their services through funeral directors, and comes at a time when cremation is becoming more and more popular in the United States, with the Huffington Post reporting that the cremation rate is expected to hit 49.1 percent by 2017.

Cost is a major factor in this, with a cremation service costing a third of a full burial, NBC notes, but those who wish to spend more on their loved one's cremation can make it more personalized with a Foreverence urn.

The Pioneer Press says the printing of the urn takes around nine hours, as the ceramic material is fed into the printer as a powder, before it is gradually built up layer-by-layer while being bonded and then decorated with the help of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

3-D printing grows in Minnesota

Minnesota is playing a major role in the fledgling world of 3-D printing, with Eden Prairie-based Stratasys a world leader in the industry. The company earlier this month opened what some consider the world's most advanced 3-D printing facility in Israel, 3DPrint.com reports.

In September, UPS announced it would be expanding its program offering 3-D printing services to business nationwide, including two in Minneapolis, following a successful pilot project using Stratasys printers, according to WCCO.

In Blooming Prairie, the Leader reports that local plastic fender manufacturer Minimizer said 3-D printing is playing an increasingly large role in its business, with founder Dick Kruckeberg saying, "it's going to be big in manufacturing."

It's not just businesses who are making use of the medium. In September, Shorewood man Andrey Rudenko completed the remarkable feat of completing a 3-D-printed scale model of a castle using concrete, believed to be the first of its kind in the world.

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