3D Printing in Art and Heritage Preservation

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3D Printing in Art and Heritage Preservation

One of the main purposes of art is to create artifacts and make some masterpieces along the way. In a nutshell, 3D printing works exactly the same. It too requires imagination, the ability to conceptualize an artwork, and make a physical reflection of it. This article will enlighten you on the matter of additive technologies applied in art and heritage preservation.

What is 3D Printing?
3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process of creating three-dimensional objects layer by layer. In essence, additive manufacturing is used to provide a digital model with a physical form. There are various 3D printing technologies, but it all comes down to the fact that professional 3D printing equipment allows building outstandingly detailed models with intricate geometries in a safe and consistent fashion. Additive manufacturing is widely used for rapid prototyping, automotive, aerospace, health, and other industries.

Additive manufacturing technologies are quickly paving their way into the professional art world as well. For instance, professional 3D scanners offer a plethora of features that can greatly contribute to heritage preservation. Such devices can capture the texture of a scanned model and create remarkably accurate renders rich in color. As a rule, handheld 3D scanners feature an ergonomic design and are lightweight, allowing you to easily take it with you to a gallery or any other place. Their lightning-fast acquisition speed provides the ability to capture highly detailed scans in less than 5 seconds.

In its turn, 3D printing can be used to make miniature souvenir copies of sculptures. The copies can then be sold or used to create original artworks. You can also shape your own, unique 3D models in a dozen different ways. Creating three-dimensional objects from digital models is a relatively new technology and therefore is not yet a mainstream practice in art, but it surely is a future echo for solidifying artists’ fantasies.

Read on to enjoy the 5 best cases of 3D printing and scanning in art and heritage preservation. Carefully picked by our editors, these astonishing works will surely touch your heart and make you feel inspired.

3D printing in the Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art
Before the advent of 3D scanning and printing, artists and sculptors had to model master copies for casting by hand. There were no guarantees that the copy would be an accurate representation of the original in terms of proportions and that there would be no subtle differences. Thanks to 3D printing technologies, creating scale copies of sculptures became a breeze. Most importantly, the printing models will always precisely match the proportions of the original if you check the relevant box in the dedicated software.

As you can see, these neatly-looking models boast their smooth surface finish and are remarkably detailed. The museum’s design workshop employees were satisfied with the result.

3D Scanning for Digital Exhibition Tours (Retablo, Mexico City Cathedral)
3D scanning can also be employed to accurately capture the interior or exterior of a cultural site. The renders can then be used to organize digital exhibition tours. These pictures display an interactable 3D model of Mexico City Metropolitian Cathedral. Try it yourself - it can be rotated, zoomed, centered, and interacted with.

Winged Skull by Joshua Harker

Joshua Harker 3D printed this astonishing sculpture with polyamide, a nylon-glass compound. Just look at how well-defined and precise the artwork is.

Additive Technologies in Cinematography
Additive technologies are also widely used in the making of film props. For instance, 3D printing allowed to create a well-ventilated and more lightweight version of the costume of C-3PO from Star Wars. Anthony Daniels, the 69 years old C-3PO actor, found the new costume much more comfortable to play the role in.

The costume has also become much easier to equip. Previously, it took the actor nearly 2 hours to become a full-fledged protocol droid. The 3D printed costume counterpart could be equipped in just 8 minutes.

Another advantage of the 3D printed version was its costs. It turned out to be a lot cheaper to make since the total price of its older counterpart was as much as three hundred thousand dollars.

Paleogeomorphology by Dmitry Kawarga
Additive manufacturing allows for creation of hundreds of small parts in a quick and precise way. Therefore, there is no more need to make each model by hand, which used to be quite a monotonous and time-consuming process. After printing all of the small parts, the artist can assemble them into a single composition and apply some post-processing procedures if needed.

“Paleogeomorphology. Core sample #17.”

Dmitry Kawarga, a renowned Russian contemporary artist and our Client remarked: “Have I opened up a new frontier for myself? Yes, you could say that. I’ve spent so much time working at those little details, and that’s a big chunk of my life that I’ll never get back, but now I can just churn them out on my PICASO. It doesn’t get tired, it doesn’t complain, it doesn’t ask to be fed and it works three times faster than I do.”

«Ikebana Rock'n'Roll»: a Collection of 3D-Printed Ceramic Vases with Andrea Salvatori
Andrea Salvatori is a master of modern ceramic art. Conceiving and shaping Italian informalism and abstractionism, the virtuoso presented a variety of 3D printed ikebana vases during his personal «Ikebana Rock'n'Roll» exhibition held in New York. Salvatori shaped a number of asymmetrical masterpieces for the exhibition. He said that the pink-colored spheres represent musical notes, highlighting Eastern spirituality and the calmness of nature combined.

Andrea explains: “The search for balance between all the elements also passes through the container. There are numerous schools of Ikebana and each one opts for a particular arrangement. Some employ tall vases and vertical lines, others use shallow containers. I decided to add digital technologies into the mix.”

Bottom Line
As you can see, there is a close connection between 3D printing, art, and heritage preservation. Additive manufacturing truly is a technology of the future, and it can greatly contribute and freshen the workflow when applied in professional art. In addition, it can be used for heritage preservation purposes. It is hard to say whether it will become an integral part of the workflow of future generation artists or not. But since 3D printing allows to breathe life into such neatly-looking artworks, it is safe to say that trying to create your own masterpiece using additive technologies won’t hurt.

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