Sep 16, 2014 | By Alec

As we've already seen in the past, history and 3D printing technology do mix. See, for instance, this 3D printed figure commemorating Polish victims of the Second World War. But now the Chicago-based artist Tom Burtonwood has finished an even more ambitious historical project called Folium, which takes on a massive stretch of history.

This twelve-page book has been completely 3D printed, and consists of nine pages filled with artwork that spans the last two thousand years of human history. Each page features a work of art from the collection of Chicago's Art Institute, printed as a bas relief. The included works are:

  • Relief plaque Depicting the God Horus as a Falcon, Late Period - Ptolemaic Period (664-30 B.C.).
  • Relief plaque depicting a Queen or Goddess, Ptolemaic Period (305-30 B.C.).
  • Relief Panel, first century A.D.
  • Buddha's Footprints, India, Andhra Pradesh, second century.
  • Stamped Tile with Crouching Ascetics, fifth century.
  • Architectural Panel with Parrots, Indonesia, Java, ninth century.
  • Coronation Stone of Motecuhzoma II (Stone of the Five Suns), fifteenth century.
  • Plaque with Portrait of George Washington, nineteenth century.
  • Louis H. Sullivan, Felsenthal, Eli B., Store: Decorative Panel early twentieth century.

The book's title – Folium – is derived from the Latin word for leaf, which refers to the decorative leaves that have been added, allowing each page to flex. The entire book has been fixed together with two long bolts based on the 'Knurled surface finishing library' created by aubenc (freely available on Thingiverse). All pages have been produced using Autodesk's 123D Catch and Recap photogrammetry applications. Burtonwood edited and cleaned his original scans in Netfabb Pro. STL files were developed with Autodesk's Tinkercad.

The actual prints are done in Ninjaflex, though Burtonwood reminds us to use any flexible thermoelastic polymer to ensure a flexibility that mimics regular pages. Polyflex could also easily be used.

Each page is printed with the positive and negative on the same page. This will allow you to use malleable materials to make your very own copies of the reliefs. However, to do so you will have to unscrew the pages, though Burtonwood assures us these can easily be reattached. The relief nature of the works makes this book accessible to blind and visually impaired people people as well, and to further help them Burtonwood has added braille translations of the list of works. The braille translations were done using ischi's openSCAD Braille Writer library and jaqtikkun's openSCAD Braille numbers.

This very cool historical tribute isn't even Burtonwood's first 3D printed book. In the summer of 2013 he released the equally impressive Orihon book. Also featuring a collection of art, Orihon was printed in an accordion style. With Folium, he has outdone himself however, as it's an actual page-turner. This cool piece of art has been made available on both Github and Thingiverse. Check it out!


Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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