Indiana Jones practiced archaeology with a bull whip and fedora. Joseph Greene and Adam Aja are using another unlikely tool — a 3-D printer.
Greene and Aja work at Harvard University’s Semitic Museum, using 3-D printers and 3-D scanning software to recreate a ceramic lion that was smashed 3,000 years ago when Assyrians attacked the ancient Mesopotamian city of Nuzi, located in modern day Iraq.
Using a process called photomodeling, the Harvard team photographed sculpture fragments in the museum’s collection from hundreds of angles to create 3-D renderings of each piece, then meshed them together to form a semi-complete 3-D model of the original artifact. They compared the digital model to scans of full statues found in the same location, noting the gaps and creating the missing pieces and support structures out of 3-D printed parts and CNC carved foam. Read more.
Loughborough University designers are to use 3D printing to help restore ancient artefacts from Beijing’s Forbidden City.
The Forbidden City’s Palace Museum is undergoing major restoration work, involving thousands of individual relics, funded by the Chinese government. Traditionally, objects needed to be measured, photographed and repaired using manual techniques — an extremely time consuming and expensive task.
However, Loughborough Design School PhD student Fangjin Zhang and colleagues have been investigating the use of 3D printing within the context of restoration in order to save money.
The team is capturing the shape of the original objects using laser or optical scanners then cleaning up the data using reverse engineering techniques. Read more.