Jul 22, 2016 | By Alec

3D printers are rapidly finding their way into the engineering faculties of universities all around the world, but the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) in Australia has just brought 3D printing to a completely different faculty as well. Starting next year, archeology students will also be able to benefit from all the advantages of 3D printing. Specifically, these services are intended for off-campus students who are unable to attend the university to gain access to archeological artefacts, and will instead be able to study full-color, highly accurate 3D printed replicas.

Despite the fact that 3D printing is as futuristic as it gets, this is by no means the first historical or archeological project to rely on 3D printing. In 2015, an Irish archeologist developed a 3D printed replica of a bronze age artefact to prove that it wasn’t actually a spear butt, while UNESCO is using the technology to preserve Middle Eastern archaeological sites. And just a few months ago, British archeological institute Wessex Archaeology turned to 3D printing to reconstruct two shipwreck sites in British waters.

But it is unusual to see it implemented on such a large scale. As USQ professor Bryce Barker revealed, it is simply crucial for a new course that will be taught next year, called ‘Archaeological Laboratory Methods: Analysis and Interpretation’ – during which students will be working directly with components from archaeological records. “To do this, students need to handle material that has been excavated and identify it. For example, we might have unearthed a skull and by looking at the teeth, we can identify what animal it is, its age, and other features,” he explains.

But the problem is that the University of Southern Queensland also has many students studying off campus – sometimes as far away as Christmas Island. For those students, 3D printing would be a fantastic opportunity to get the same hands-on experience as the students on-campus. It would also be essential for developing the necessary skills to be an archeologist. Without 3D printing, those students might have to travel thousands of miles for intensive courses to acquire those skills.

However, as Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Jan Thomas explained, this is also just the next step in using innovative technologies to enhance the learning and teaching processes. The project itself is part of USQ’s ICT Technology Demonstrators Project. “The demonstrator process is 90 days and is a trial of a product that will improve an educator’s professional practice and ultimately motivate and provide significant enhancement to the student learning journey,” Professor Thomas said. “Simply, Technology Demonstrators are looking into the classroom of the future. We continuously seek to explore and drive innovative, evidence-based approaches to the facilitation and delivery of learning and teaching so that all our students receive quality learning experiences and graduate as pioneering connected professionals.”

As such, 3D printing is part of USQ’s plans for the future. According to professor Ken Udas, similar high-tech innovations, such as animal dissection, teaching space evolution, and the educational application of robotics,3D printing, apps and e-books are also being studied. “We have adopted a low barrier, low cost, iterative, time-bound, and failure-free approach that is yielding positive results. We believe that this model is transferable to a rather wide-range of our experimental and innovative activities,” he said.

For this particular archeological innovation, the replicated artefacts – including skulls, bones and ancient tools – will be 3D scanned with a laser scanner and 3D printed in full color by Australian 3D printing service Ellipsis Media. The company has been offering these services for two and a half years and use a 3D Systems Projet 660Pro 3D printer, as well as Artec Eva, Structure Sensor and the NextEngine Ultra HD laser scanners.

According to Ellipsis Media Manager Robert Keanalley, their technologies are perfect for such artefacts. “With archaeology, anthropology and museum specimens, we can non-invasively laser scan objects ranging in size from 5cm up to the size of a passenger car,” he said. “It’s perfect for capturing specimens imbedded in rock that traditional methods of plaster casting for replication may otherwise damage or destroy the original relic.” Educational 3D printing, it seems, is finally becoming a reality.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



Maybe you also like:


Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to

3ders.org Feeds 3ders.org twitter 3ders.org facebook   

About 3Ders.org

3Ders.org provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive