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Balitmore Business Journal February 2004
Owings Mills company lets freedom ring with Liberty Bell 'scanning'
By Robert J. Terry


Last August, Michael Raphael and his wife jumped out of a long line of people waiting to see the Liberty Bell while on a trip to Philadelphia.

This week he had the famous artifact of American freedom to himself for an evening.

Raphael, president of Owings Mills-based Direct Dimensions, and two associates traveled to the shadow of Independence Hall Feb. 17 to use an array of digital and laser technologies to scan the Liberty Bell.

The purpose? Create a 3-D image and computer model of the surface and contours of the Liberty Bell, which will be used by a French bell foundry in Normandy to recast a replica bell.

The Normandy Liberty Bell will then be the centerpiece of an anniversary celebration this summer of American troops landing at Normandy in 1944. Known as D-Day, the Normandy Beach invasion led to the Allied forces' defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.

Direct Dimensions works primarily with manufacturers and engineers such as Towson's Black & Decker, scanning and creating computer models of molds and parts. The company's technology is used for quality control and reverse engineering.

It has been making a name for itself with historic preservation work, as well. Direct Dimensions, which employs eight and last year booked revenues of more than $1 million, has scanned the Lincoln Memorial and the original propellers on the airplane flown by the Wright Brothers.

By the way, the Liberty Bell's famous crack will be "virtually restored," Raphael added, to better guide the French craftsmen. They are intent on casting a bell that will ring out over Normandy.