July 9, 2015 | By Simon

While we’ve previously seen how 3D scanning ancient artifacts and other historical artworks for sharing with others has been met with mixed legal opinions, it’s hard to argue that it’s among the best ways of preserving - and even repairing - the invaluable pieces.  

So far, we’ve seen both private and public institutions are pairing 3D scanning and 3D printing to repair damaged works, create interactive versions of otherwise protected works, or have digitally archived the art so that those who may be unable to experience it in person may be able to do so virtually or 3D print their own replica for a classroom or a school project.  

More recently, Eric Lemaresquier of leFabShop’s leFabClub in Paris, France used a combination of 3D scanning, 3D modeling and 3D printing to accurately replicate and repair a damaged ancient bust of Suryavarman, King of Cambodia, whose legacy dates back to the 11th Century.

Currently, Lemaresquier is the Workshop Manager of leFabShop - where he provides training and support in fabrication methodologies and product development processes to help Makers develop their businesses and grow their projects - so using the combination of 3D technologies was all in a day’s work.   

To create the 3D printed replica of Suryavarman, Lemaresquier and his small team used the photogrammetric method of rotating the damaged artifact on a turntable while taking approximately 200 photos using a Nikon Reflex camera with a 45mm lens before uploading the images into Autodesk’s Memento software, which is designed to be an end-to-end solution for converting any captured reality input (photos or scans) into high definition 3D meshes.

Once the 3D mesh was created from the digital photographs, the team then imported it into Pixologic’s Zbrush digital sculpting software to repair the damaged pieces resculpt any important details.  In order to replicate the existing colors and textures of the bust, Lemaresquier used the program’s photographic capture tool to repaint the model’s new features using existing texture data.  

Once the Lemaresquier bust had been fully digitally-restored, Lemaresquier then prepared the model for export to a 3D printer.  To preserve the appearance of the original bust, which was made from wood, Lemaresquier chose to print the final model using Mcor’s IRIS SDL (Selective Deposition Lamination) paper-based 3D printer.

“If I had to choose between a plastic replica of Milo’s Venus, and a paper one, the choice would be obvious – paper,”  Lemaresquier recently told MCor. “And, because of the IRIS’ high-resolution colour capability, it’s a no brainer! The cost of materials is lower than any other printers out there and the authentic feel and durability for artistic pieces that you get with the Mcor IRIS, you simply can’t get with plastics-based printers.”

Although the IRIS SDL 3D printer was capable of both printing with high resolution and full color, the final life-sized bust was still too big to be printed in one print session.  To work around this, Lemaresquier divided the model into three printable parts that could be easily assembled after each was printed individually.  Once the final assembly was made, the team coated the entire assembled bust with non-toxic white glue to both hold it together with a transparent layer as well as provide an invisible protective wall for added durability.    

“We are confident that this project will open new opportunities for the Mcor IRIS to be used in cultural, historic and artistic restoration and preservation for museums, governments and other organisations,” said Lemaresquier. “We are also exploring this cutting-edge 3D printing technology for packaging design. Mcor paper-based 3D printing is ideal for packaging prototypes because it is the only 3D printing technology that can produce photo-realistic high-definition colour living hinges and, of course, the material most closely resembles that of many packaging products.”

The project is another perfect example of how 3D technologies can be used to preserve human history unlike any methods we’ve used before.  As for what’s next for Lemaresquier and team, we can’t wait to see!  



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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