History is getting some high-tech help in restoring some of Erie’s older buildings along Millionaire’s Row.

The issue is ballisters, thin ornate spindles used in older staircases, which are often difficult to match up and replace. Tom Hagen, who is restoring downtown mansions, hooked up with Gannon University’s 3D printing lab to make plastic replicas.

When painted, the plastic replicas can pass as wood. They are being tried in one West 6th Street home but could have wider implications if successful.

“It’s an opportunity to replicate something that we can’t replicate, but they can do it with this new technology of 3D printing. It’s magical,” said Tom Hagen, home restorer.

Hagen believes other plastic parts could replace wood as the technology improves and benefit Gannon engineering students as well.