Wednesday, 18 Apr, 2012 Technology

3D Printing Tech Used to Restore Artifacts from China's Forbidden City


A team from England's Loughborough University started using 3D printing technology to restore ancient artifacts that were part of China's Forbidden City.

Led by PhD student Fangjin Zhang, the team managed to considerably speed up the restoration that previously took a lot of time due to such processes as measuring, photographing and repairing by hand.

It is worth mentioning that the Forbidden City, found in Beijing, houses the Palace Museum, and is the place where an extensive collection of priceless artwork and numerous centuries-old artifacts is found. The Forbidden City boasts the world's largest collection of preserved wooden structures. According to a 1925 audit, the total number of items found in the Forbidden City reaches some 1.17 million.

Here's how 3D technology helps restore the collection faster and more accurately: with the help of a laser or optical scanners, researchers are able to capture the shape of each item. The 3D printing technology then restores the damaged areas.

Despite the fact that such technology has already been available for several years now, the Loughborough Design School team decided to adjust the technology specifically for the restoration of historic artifacts.

Tthe Chinese Government engaged the Loughborough University to make use of its 3D printing process in order to repair a number of specific artifacts, such as the ceiling and enclosure of a pavilion in the Emperor Chanlong Garden.

According to Loughborough Design School's Dr Ian Campbell, the technology could be used for similar purposes in different museums around the world.

[via Loughborough University]

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